ITF Secures War Zone Pay for Sections of Black Sea and Sea of Azov

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Courtesy ITF

Published Mar 2, 2022 9:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) representing global shipowners and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have agreed to designate the northern half of the Black Sea and all of the Sea of Azov as "Warlike Operations Areas," reflecting recent attacks on shipping in the region and ongoing hostilities. This designation triggers increased security measures and war zone pay for seafarers in the area. 

IBF Warlike Operations Areas were designated for the northern half of the Sea of Azov (north of 46 degrees N), the Northern Black Sea Region and all ports in Ukraine. Under this classification, seafarers onboard covered ships are entitled to receive:

  •     bonus equal to basic wage, payable for five days minimum and daily thereafter;
  •     doubled compensation for death and disability;
  •     right to refuse sailing, with repatriation at company’s cost and compensation equal to two month’s basic wage;
  •     and a recommendation to operate at ISPS Level 3. 

The joint meeting centered on questions surrounding repatriation, payment of wages, safe transit, and respect of individual seafarers’ rights - particularly for seafarers from the region. Russian and Ukrainian seafarers comprise a considerable share of the global maritime workforce.

Ukraine's ports have closed to commercial shipping, and though reports indicate that traffic is limited through the Kerch Strait, the Russian ports of Novorossysisk and Rostov-on-Don would be affected. The JNG/ITF collective bargaining agreement covers seafarers on over 9,000 ships worldwide, roughly 15 percent of the world fleet. 

"The escalation in hostilities and conflict in Ukraine has put enormous pressure on seafarers of all nations and an industry already laboring under the demands and challenges of the pandemic," ITF said in a statement. "The parties agreed that the welfare of seafarers and the protection of their rights in this unprecedented situation was paramount to the spirit and intent of the IBF agreement."

The JNG and ITF plan to revisit the designation areas every two weeks. In addition, the JNG and ITF plan on further discussions on ways to ensure seafarers’ safety and security in the rapidly evolving crisis. This includes a joint call on governments to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian seafarers in order to make it easier to repatriate them.