October 7, 2008
Double pay for ship crews in pirate danger zone
Ship crews transiting a designated pirate danger zone in the Gulf of Aden are to get double pay under an agreement reached today.
At a meeting in Singapore called in response to ITF concerns about the growing threat posed by Somali pirate activities, the shipping industry's International Bargaining Forum agreed to establish a "high risk area" covering the major part of the Gulf of Aden with immediate effect.
The Memorandum of Agreement agreed at the meeting will provide that seafarers on ships covered by IBF Agreements will receive a bonus equal to 100% of their basic wage while the vessel is in transit. The normal rates of death and disability compensation for seafarers will be doubled during this period.
The growing effectiveness of the channel through the Gulf provided by the designated, IMO-approved, Maritime Security Patrol Area was recognized by the committee and the intervention of armed naval forces in the region was welcomed. The committee therefore agreed that seafarers on ships that used this corridor for the transit should continue to be expected to serve on their vessels during transits. Seafarers on ships that choose not to use the Maritime Security Patrol Area will have the right to refuse to make the transit and to be repatriated at owners' expense.
Speaking after the meeting Brian Orrell, the ITF spokesman said:
"We have been very seriously concerned about the reports from the Gulf-- the pirate attacks seem to be escalating and covering a wider area of the Gulf. This agreement is breaking new ground in recognizing that seafarers face serious risks at sea besides just the possibility of being asked to sail into an area where wars are in progress. This is a major step forward for the IBF."
Captain Manji, the spokesman for the employers group said:
"We are pleased that the efforts being made to improve security in the Gulf by providing patrols by armed naval vessels seem to be helping the situation and we urge those responsible to increase the number of ships in the area and to strengthen the rules of engagement. We appreciate that the IBF has not designated a "high risk area" before, but the special factors in this situation justify this measure."