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Fight Between Commodities Giants and Shippers Leaves Seafarers Stuck

The big players have agreed to prioritize relief for exhausted ship workers. Why are so many still stranded? 

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A standoff between commodities giants and shipping companies is prolonging the labor crisis at sea, with an estimated 200,000 seafarers still stuck on their vessels beyond the expiration of their contracts and past the requirements of globally accepted safety standards. 

In an effort to keep deliveries of food, fuel and other raw materials on schedule, some of the big commodities firms are avoiding hiring certain vessels or imposing conditions that may block relief for exhausted seafarers. The companies are trying to steer clear of crew changes, which have become far more expensive and time-consuming during the coronavirus outbreak. In an effort to keep shipments on schedule, some firms have asked their shipping partners to guarantee that no change will take place, according to emails and contracts reviewed by Bloomberg.