Letter: Vaccination of transport workers would ease supply bottlenecks
Eighteen months ago, your newspaper contained a warning from the shipping industry of a potential “trade congestion” unless governments put the welfare of transportation workers first. These were not empty words (“Dealing with Christmas Supply Chain Indigestion,” FT View, October 16).
Today, governments around the world are scrambling to solve a problem they have ignored for too long: the mistreatment of sailors, pilots and drivers who drive global commerce forward. In medical terms, they are treating a patient who has already arrived in A&E, when preventive health measures could have been taken a long time ago. During Covid, governments were slow to declare transport workers as key workers and prioritize them for vaccines. Some haven’t yet.
This means that crucial links in the global supply chain – humans – have been trapped aboard ships, forced to sleep in their vehicles for weeks or forced to fly from quarantine to quarantine without interruption. Despite repeated warnings from the industry that supply chains could not resist this and warning signs such as major port closures in China and the United States, world leaders were unwilling or unable to do what was necessary.
They are now reaping the consequences. Christmas may not be canceled, as many worry, but the post-Covid economic recovery for many countries has been significantly delayed. The workforce will find it difficult to recover.
The Biden administration’s public efforts to address bottlenecks at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are welcome, but address the symptom rather than the cause.
Governments should implement easing travel restrictions for transport workers, allow them to be prioritized for vaccinations, and agree on common vaccination requirements to ensure that supply chains can continue to meet the needs of transport workers. needs of the world.
International Chamber of Shipping, London EC3, United Kingdom