Global supply chains run the risk of collapsing unless governments worldwide restore freedom of movement to transport workers and give them priority over vaccines, a coalition of international business leaders has warned
In an open letter to heads of state and government attending the United Nations General Assembly, the International Chamber of Shipping and other transport groups warned that almost two years’ travel ban and other restrictions have a “detrimental effect on [transport workers’] well-being and safety ”.
The ‘abuse’ of workers is putting pressure on the already ‘broken’ global supply chain, they said, adding that any lack of action is likely to exacerbate the pre-Christmas shortage of essential goods, including electronics, food, fuel and medical supplies.
Pandemic boundary restrictions, distance requirements and factory closures all wreaked havoc on traditional supply chains, leading to congestion at ports, delivery delays and rising cargo prices on major shipping routes between China, the US and Europe. A shortage of transport workers has accumulated the pressure, the organizations have warned, and the expectation is that it will only get worse.
The plea comes as the British government moves towards him deploy soldiers to deliver petrol after Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the pandemic led to a shortage of truck drivers. There is a worldwide shortage of truck drivers, and the American Trucking Association reports a shortage of nearly 61,000 drivers in the US.
The transport organizations, which represent 65 million workers, have accused governments of not listening and called for active and coordinated action to resolve this crisis.
At the height of the crisis, 400,000 seafarers could not leave their ships, and some worked for up to 18 months on their initial contracts, the letter said. Flights are restricted and aviation workers are faced with the inconsistency of border, travel and vaccine restrictions / requirements.
Additional and systemic stops at roadblocks also meant that truck drivers sometimes had to wait weeks before they could complete their journeys and return home.
“Global supply chains are starting to shrink as the two-year pressure on transport workers takes their toll,” the groups wrote.
“In all transport sectors, there is also a shortage of workers, and they expect more to leave due to the poor treatment that millions experienced during the pandemic, which threatens the supply chain,” the letter reads.
The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization must act quickly if they are to address these concerns, the letter said.
Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, a signatory, said the group hopes common sense will prevail. “But despite all the good work behind the scenes, the available data and expertise, our political science that influences decisions does not have the right science,” he said.
Umberto de Pretto, secretary general of the International Road Transport Union, said: ‘What is needed is a political decision. Do you want an economic recovery or not? If you do, you want political leadership to address this crisis. ”
Last week, the Maersk shipping group, which transports about a fifth of all cargo in the sea, was seen as a stepping stone to global trade, told the Financial Times it was on track to make record profits this year due to the disruption of global supply chains, as the increase in consumer demand pushed up freight prices. However, it is also said that it will probably be 2022 before the supply chain starts to return to normal.