The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and other industry groups sent an open letter on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly urging for industry assistance or face a "global transport system collapse."

In the letter, they asked governments to restore freedom of movement to transport workers and give them priority to receive vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization in order to secure global supply chains. 

"Global supply chains are beginning to buckle as two years' worth of strain on transport workers take their toll," the letter read. "All transport sectors are also seeing a shortage of workers, and expect more to leave as a result of the poor treatment millions have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat." 

The joint letter has also been signed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). 

Their collective industries account for more than $20 trillion of world trade annually and represent 65 million transport workers globally, they noted in the letter. 

Due to the pandemic, 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their ships, with some seafarers working for as long as 18 months over their initial contracts. Changes to travel restrictions, port shutdowns and vaccine requirements are some reasons for the challenges workers are facing, heads of transport organizations noted.

Guy Platten, secretary-general of the ICS, told CNN that worker shortages are expected to worsen during the year’s fourth quarter as many transport workers fear renewing their contracts and risking not making it home for the holidays given this year’s industry challenges. 

If negative supply shocks persist, the world could be facing a growth cut and cost growth which would increase inflation pressure, the Guardian noted.