Singapore seafarers get extended COVID-19 unemployment relief

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat observing cadet trainees. Credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

Singapore is extending the COVID-19 unemployment relief for seafarers to 31 December 2020; the original deadline was on 31 July 2020. As the scheme has been extended to six months, the relief amount cap of the Seafarers Relief Package (SRP) will also be upped from SGD2,400 to SGD4,800 (USD1,771 to USD3,543).

Singaporean seafarers who are unable to secure shipboard employment between 1 May and 31 December this year are eligible for the package, which was launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS).

“Seafarers play a vital role in enabling global seaborne trade, and keeping the supply of critical goods flowing. To enhance our safety net for Singaporean seafarers, we will extend the Seafarers Relief Package to provide more help to those whose jobs are affected by COVID-19. We will also support seafarers to go for training and to upgrade their skills,” said Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat.

Cadet trainees under the Tripartite Nautical Training Award and Tripartite Engineering Training Award place-and-train programmes, together with other qualifying seafarers, have benefited from the SRP as their shipboard attachments or employment were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, seafarers continue to play an essential role in keeping the global supply chain moving. While tripartite partners continue to accelerate efforts to facilitate crew change at the Singapore port, we also want to continue to offer assistance to our Singaporean seafarers who have been affected and are unable to sign on ships during this challenging time. We hope that the extension of the Seafarers Relief Package will lighten the financial burden of our seafarers and their families,” said Mary Liew, general secretary of SMOU.

SOS president Kam Soon Huat added, “SOS strongly supports the extension of SRP amid the ongoing challenges faced by Singaporean seafarers and their dependents. We understand their concerns and we want to be there for them as much as we can during this difficult phase of their seafaring career.”