What to do if your wages have not been paid?

Contact the ITF

If you find that your wages have not been paid, contact the local ITF representative. using the link on the right of this page.

Speak to the ITF representative as soon as possible. Things are easier to resolve if you have not been paid for two months than if you have not been paid for nine months!

Have as much information and evidence to hand. If possible you should have:
  • a copy of your employment contract, detailing what wages you should have been paid;
  • details of when you joined the ship;
  • details of what hours you have worked;
  • details of the ship itself – e.g. name, flag, IMO number, type of vessel;
  • details of the shipowner – e.g. name, country, any contact details;
  • bank statements showing last payments by the company and showing periods where no payment was received;
  • copies of any correspondence with the company.
The ITF cannot make any guarantees that your wages will be paid but will do everything possible to assist you.

Find out if other colleagues have the same problem

Talk to your fellow crewmembers and find out if they are also owed wages. Find out how long they have been unpaid or underpaid. Ask if they are interested in pursuing a claim. It may be easier to do so together. Once crew members know that others are in the same situation, and are doing something about it, they may feel less nervous about standing up for themselves.

Taking action

Seek local advice before you take any form of action. In some countries the law works against you if you strike. Local ITF Inspectors or union representatives will explain this to you.

In many other countries you have the legal right to strike, as long as your ship is in port and not at sea. Again, ask the advice of the local ITF representative.

The right to strike is a basic human right and is guaranteed in many countries by the law or constitution.

If you do decide to go on strike, remember to be disciplined, peaceful and united.

Prevention is better than cure

Make sure that the ship you join is covered by an ITF agreement. An ITF agreement makes it easier to resolve any backpay claims. Please use the link on the right of this page to find out if your ship is covered by an ITF agreement.

Insist on a written contract of employment, which sets out your wages and working conditions. This makes any backpay claims much easier to prove.