Inside the Issues

Coping with Piracy – Guidance for Seafarers

The ITF has been working hard to ensure that ship owners and governments take full responsibility for the safety of seafarers from piracy, and to ensure that seafarers are not left to cope with piracy on their own. 

Employers’ duty of care

The ITF believes that ships should only transit the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Somalia in exceptional circumstances. The risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harm’s way amounts to a breach of the shipowner’s duty of care.  

Ships should only transit the area with the protection of naval vessels, or if the ship is classified as low risk and has certain protection measures in place.

High Risk Area

The ITF’s International Bargaining Forum (IBF) collective agreement contains a designated High Risk Area, in addition to existing Warlike Operations Area.  

This High Risk area includes the entire Gulf of Aden and extends 400 miles east of Somalia (for full details, please download the IBF High Risk Area document on the right of this page).  

Your rights

If your ship is covered by the ITF IBF collective agreement, and it is due to sail into the designated High Risk Area, you have the right to be repatriated at the company’s expense before transiting the High Risk Area, EXCEPT when the ship transits only through the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) patrolled by international navies.

If you are sailing into the High Risk Area and your ship is covered by the ITF IBF collective agreement, you are entitled to:

  • receive a bonus equal to 100% of your basic wages; and
  • receive double compensation in case of death or injury.

The bonus and enhanced compensation apply during the entire period of transit through the High Risk Area, regardless of whether the ship is inside or outside the IRTC.

Similar provisions exist in the ITF TCC, ITF Standard, and many national collective agreements.

Check the provisions in your own collective agreement, or contact your union for assistance.  

Find out which union covers your ship, by clicking on ‘Look Up a Ship’ at the top of the page. To find contact information for the union, click ‘Find an Inspector or Union’.  

For more information on ITF collective agreements, click on ‘Your Rights’ and then ‘What are ITF Agreements?’

Piracy prevention – what is your employer doing?

The ITF is one of the organisations that have helped to develop the following advice on the protection of seafarers and ships at risk from piracy.

You should read this advice. A significant number of ship owners are not following these best practices and are in clear breach of their duty of care to seafarers.