IBF Declares Piracy High-Risk Area in West African Waters (3/30)

 

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The International Transport Workers’ Federation, to which the SIU is affiliated, has issued the following press release on behalf of the International Bargaining Forum. The release is dated March 20; the related statement follows.

 

International Bargaining Forum declares piracy high risk area in West African waters

 

The IBF (International Bargaining Forum) is declaring a high risk area for the territorial waters of Benin and Nigeria, following the increasing number of attacks on vessels and kidnap of crews there. The designation will come into effect on 1st April 2012 in order to allow ship operators to make any necessary preparations. It will afford the same benefits and protections to seafarers in those areas as the High Risk Area in the Gulf of Aden and around Somalia, including: the need for enhanced security measures; advance notice of intent to enter the area; the right to refuse to enter it; and a doubling of the daily basic wage and of death and disability compensation while within the area of risk.

 

The High Risk Area provisions apply to all ships operated under an IBF agreement. The ITF’s Fair Practices Committee Steering Group will decide on whether to also apply them to all ships under non-IBF ITF agreements. IBF agreements on high risk areas also provide an indicator of good practice to national flag registers. The provisions are set out in full below.

 

The IBF provides a forum for discussion between the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its member unions, and the maritime employers in the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG). For more details please see www.imec.org.uk/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=51&Itemid=57 or www.itfseafarers.org/about-IBF.cfm.

 

IBF HIGH RISK AREA IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

 

20 March 2012

 

The constituents to the International Bargaining Forum have been increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situation in respect of security of crews employed on IBF vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Specifically, available reports of attacks leading to forceful seizure of cargo and kidnapping of crew members have been considered at length. The increase in the number of attacks and the violent tactics of hostage taking applied by armed gangs, have been found disturbing, particularly in the waters and ports of Nigeria and Benin. The necessity of an adequate response to the situation has become clear in an effort to bring greater security and guarantees to seafarers serving on IBF ships in the area.

 

In this context, following the IBF High Level Officers meeting in Tokyo on 2nd February 2012 and further process of consultations carried out by the IBF Joint Secretariats, the IBF has agreed the following course of action:

 

In recognition of the hazards facing seafarers in ports, in land waterways and off the coast of Benin and Nigeria, an IBF High Risk Area should be established with the following co-ordinates:

 

the territorial waters of Benin and Nigeria, including ports, terminals and roads anchorages, the delta of the Niger river, other inland waterways and port facilities, except only when the vessel is attached securely to a berth or SBM facility in a guarded port area.

 

Within this Area the following provisions should apply:

 

All companies operating vessels or installations in the above Area should have sufficient security arrangements to safeguard their personnel, given the nature of the risk, and should provide adequate protection, advice and compensations to the crews. Specifically, the following requirements should be complied with:

 

  1. Upon the vessel’s entry into and, further, throughout the entire stay in the Area as specified above, seafarers must be protected by increased security measures that will provide adequate levels of safety and security on board, such as the Best Management Practice.

 

  1. In the ports of the above listed countries and inland waterways and approaches to these ports, including offshore installations, extra security measures for reducing the vessel’s vulnerability to an unsanctioned approach and boarding should be adopted. Such measures should, inter alia, provide for an enhanced look-out and an emergency alert/action plan securing sufficient safety for the crew and reliable contact with the authorities. The sufficiency of such extra security measures should be determined depending on the vessel’s type, size and freeboard.

 

  1. Prior to approaching a port, detailed local advice about the security situation should be obtained and arrivals and departures timed to coincide with security patrols operated by respective government forces, if available.

 

  1. Shore leave should be prohibited unless exceptional circumstances or emergencies may demand otherwise.

 

  1. Normal crew changes should not be effected in any above listed country unless absolutely essential.

 

  1. Under normal circumstances the company shall notify the seafarer if the vessel on which he/she is due to serve/is serving is planned to call into the Area at least 30 days prior to the entry. On receipt of this notification, the seafarer may request to exercise his/her right of repatriation at Company expense, with benefits accrued until date of return to final destination. If it proves impossible for a Company to notify a seafarer more than 30 days prior to the entry (for example due to schedule changes), the Company shall make all reasonable endeavors to repatriate the seafarer at the earliest opportunity, at Company expense, with benefits accrued until date of return to final destination.

 

  1. The company should pay each seafarer agreeing to proceed into the Area a compensation amounting to 100% of the basic wage for each day of the seafarer’s stay in the Area and a doubled compensation in case of death and/or disability.

 

  1. In the event of an attack regular liaison should be maintained with seafarers' families to advise them of the status of respective crewmembers working in the Area and the security measures being adopted to safeguard and assist them.    

 

  1. The parties have accepted that compared to the terms and conditions of the respective IBF Collective Bargaining Agreement this agreement may lead to more favorable treatment for seafarers serving in the Area, but in no case will it undermine any existing contractual entitlements.

 

This designation should take effect from 1st April 2012 and remain in force until the IBF may decide differently.

 

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