Danger Zone

With no answers in sight on the fight against piracy the unions are yet again forced to consider the “nuclear” option.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has adopted a motion that calls for “a high level strategic planning task force to begin as a matter of urgency the necessary planning to implement the call to refuse to sail in the area”.

The motion, adopted at a meeting of the ITF seafarers’ section in Buenos Aires, notes the situation in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden (jointly referred to as “the area”) was now so serious the ITF’s seafaring affiliates could no longer tolerate it.

With thousands of seafarers subjected to “gunfire, beatings, confinement and, in some cases torture and murder”, the tipping point is close, when the unions will no longer accept the increased risk and unsafe situation for their members to sail in the area.

There have been threats before when the unions have said their members would refuse to sail in high-risk areas, but so far that hasn’t happened. However as the violence increases and with no real answers in sight it could be that  the option is the only one on the table. Especially as the ITF motion, insists that shipowners must, when highlighting the plight of seafarers, include recognition of their “right to refuse to sail into the area” and to ensure seafarers and their families “receive contractual entitlements when held captive”.

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