The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have agreed to form an Action Group “as a matter of urgency” to ensure freedom of movement for transport professionals.

This commitment follows a meeting of the World Transport Organisation (IRU), of which the CETM is a member, together with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), with WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus and ILO director Guy Rider last week.

New travel restrictions following the emergence of the Omicron variant have put the supply chain under strain, prompting the international bodies to call on governments to coordinate measures to avoid restricting the movement of workers in the sector.

According to the WHO director general, the Task Force will begin work this week and will hold future meetings with the IRU, IATA, ICS and ITF. Among the issues they plan to discuss is the creation of a so-called Yellow Card, a medical passport that would be issued by the WHO and used by transport professionals as proof of vaccination.

As the IRU has indicated in a statement, the Task Force will work to ensure the implementation of existing travel protocols developed by the industry with the intention of protecting the rights of professional drivers, and the UN Secretary General’s Executive Committee is expected to meet in January 2022 to discuss the issues raised by these organisations.

The restrictions that some governments have hastily put in place in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 are affecting the functioning of the global supply chain and thus the recovery of the economy. At least 56 countries have imposed various travel restrictions and are hampering the free movement of freight professionals.