The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 65 million workers and 80 percent of world’s merchant shipping fleet, issued the warning in an open letter to the United Nations general assembly on Wednesday. The statement, which was signed by the International Air Transport Association, the International Road Transport Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, claimed there could be a “global transport system collapse” if world Governments failed to restore pre-pandemic levels of travel movement or give priority vaccine notices to transport workers.
“Global supply chains are beginning to buckle as two years’ worth of strain on transport workers take their toll,” the letter read.
“All transport sectors are also seeing a shortage of workers, and expect more to leave as a result of the poor treatment millions have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat.”
Throughout the pandemic, the imposition of travel restrictions, distancing requirements and factory closures has caused traditional supply chains to strain.
The Financial Times reports this has led to congestion at ports, delivery delays and soaring freight rates.
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According to the US news network CNN, industry experts worry worker shortages could worsen in the next few months.
Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, worried workers’ fears over port shutdowns and travel restrictions could increase hesitancy amongst seafarers to commit to fresh contracts.
The letter added that an estimated 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their trips during the height of COVID-19 in 2020.
Willie Walsh, the International Air Transport Association’s director-general, said his group hopes common sense would prevail.
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According to the American Trucking Association, there is a shortfall of nearly 61,000 drivers across the United States.
There is also an estimated shortage of around 400,000 drivers across mainland Europe, including 40,000 in Germany alone.