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International Transport Workers' Federation
HomeSeafarers > Message to Seafarers

Message to Seafarers

Google free translation: Italiano, Norske, Português, Türk, 中国的, 한국의, Bahasa Melayu, ภาษาไทย, हिंदी, اردو, தமிழ், Kiswahili, Deutsch, Español, Français, Svenska, Русский, العربية

See: Seafarer Contacts by Country

The ITF is here to help you. Help us to help you by having the following information available when contacting the ITF or leaving a message on an inspector's voice mail/answer machine:

1. Have the name of the ship (IMO number if known), flag and its whereabouts i.e. name of the port and number of pier

2. Next port of call in the event that the inspector is unavailable when the ship arrives

3. Your complaint (eg if you have not received your wages)

4. The number of crew on board

and, wherever possible, try and contact the ITF before the ship arrives in the port. This will enable the ITF inspectors to be more prepared to deal with your case.

A guide to the phonetic alphabet is written below. This will be useful when contacting the ITF with details of names which are awkward or difficult to pronounce.

Guide to the phonetic alphabet
A lpha N ovember
B ravo O scar
C harlie P apa
D elta  Q uebec
E cho R omeo
F oxtrot S ierra
G olf T ango
H otel U niform
I ndia V ictor
J uliet W hisky
K ilo X -ray
L ima Y ankee
M ike Z ulu


In today's shipping market, many costs are outside a shipowner's control. But one area – crew cost – has become the main source of competition between shipowners. Savage cost cutting often means low wages, inadequate manning, excessive hours, bad shipboard conditions, and serious exploitation of seafarers of many different nationalities.

The ITF comes across thousands of seafarers each year who have been aban-doned in ports far away from home without pay, cheated and abused. This is unacceptable.

As thousands of shipowners know to their cost, the ITF through its affiliated seafarers' and dockers' trade unions, has been waging a campaign against flags of convenience for more than 50 years. The aims of the FOC campaign are:

  • The elimination of the FOC system and the establishment of a regulatory framework for the shipping industry based on the concept of a “genuine link” between the flag a ship flies and the place where it is beneficially owned and controlled;
  • To attack sub-standard shipping and seek ITF acceptable standards on all ships irrespective of flag, using all the political, industrial and legal means at the ITF's disposal;
  • To protect and enhance the conditions of employment of maritime workers and to ensure that all maritime workers regardless of colour, nationality, sex, race or creed are protected from exploitation by their employers and those acting on their behalf; and
  • To individually strengthen affiliated unions, in all organisational aspects, so as to ensure the provision and delivery of a greater degree of solidarity in waging the campaign.

Date published: 13th May 2004
Date reviewed:
Source: Message to Seafarers, ITF publication

Copyright © 2012 ITF
ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk
Copyright © 2012 ITF
ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk