Chile: Ship workers in the salmon farmed industry demand preventive measures from the government to halt the spread of Covid-19

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Maritime transport companies of the mega export-industry of Chilean salmon cultivation have only given their workers 1 face mask and hand sanitizer as a preventive measure against Covid-19, without having made an on-board risk analysis for the boats, nor evaluating measures that could prevent infected people from boarding.

Puerto Montt, Chile, March 20, 2020. ( the context of the public health crisis, provoked by Covid-19, the Federation of Maritime Unions (Fesimar), which represents ship workers providing transport services to the salmon industry companies, demand urgent measurements from the government and companies to halt the spread of the virus between the workers onboard ships as well as those who work with connected tasks in harbours and pontoons.

The union organisation confirms that 70% of the shipment personnel are not living in the region, and have to travel from other regions for work, commuting with various means of collective transport (buses).

«When they reach the harbour to embark the ship, they stay in boardinghouses and hostels, provided by the companies, where they share tight spaces with other people, – generally more than 10 people in one residence-, who furthermore come from various locations. Upon boarding, they have to share living spaces with between 7 and 10 people, in most cases 4 crew members share rooms of only 3 square meters.»

Fesimar confirms that «on board, as of today, we do not see any protective measures to guarantee the cleanliness and sanitation of the surfaces between docking and setting sail, with the purpose of eliminating any trace of the virus, such as those procedures implemented on public transport.»

The companies have only handed out 1 face mask, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and some medicine. However, no risk evaluation of possible contamination on board has taken place, and no evaluation of actions that could avoid the boarding of infected people, crew members, repair staff, or people who are on the ship for other reasons.

According to article 184 of the Labour Code, employers have an obligation to, and are responsible for, taking the necessary means to effectively protect the life and health of the workers, informing about the possible risks and maintaining adequate hygiene and security standards in the workplace.