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COVID-19 and transport workers

Recommendations adopted by heads of UN agencies and sectoral organizations to protect transport workers in future health emergencies

A Joint Action Group, set up to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s transport workers and the global supply chain, encourages all actors to apply internationally agreed protocols and standards and take proactive and concrete actions for future emergencies.

News | 25 January 2023
GENEVA (ILO News) – A Joint Action Group created in December 2021 by four UN agencies together with the international transport sector employer and worker organizations to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s transport workers and the global supply chain, has adopted recommendations to better protect these workers – including seafarers, truckers, aircrew – from the impact of future health crises.

The recommendations were adopted during a hybrid meeting held at the International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva on 24 January 2023. They set out steps to protect transport workers, including improving how UN bodies and agencies and sectoral organizations can quickly and efficiently share information and coordinate actions during public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC).

The recommendations of the Joint Action Group include actions to be taken by all members of the Group, by the UN system as a whole, specifically by the UN agencies concerned, through UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams, and by the international transport sector organizations themselves. They also call on Governments to take concrete actions to protect the rights of transport workers during future public health emergencies of international concern, as well as with continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the transport sector with considerable and, at times, unbearable challenges, threatening the sectors’ sustainability, as well as the lives and livelihoods of its workers. We need to make sure that we are better prepared for future emergencies,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General of ILO.

The Joint Action Group was established following a meeting between the ILO Director-General, his counterpart at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the heads of sectoral organizations and federations. It was then joined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO). The group addressed serious and urgent challenges faced by transport workers resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises. Its aim has been to minimize adverse impacts on workers, their families and global supply chains, while at the same time ensuring that public health needs are fully safeguarded, and local communities are protected.

The Group brought together heads of the ILO, WHO, ICAO, IMO, International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The International Organization of Employers (IOE), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) participated as observers.