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IBF to implement High-Risk Area in the Red Sea

news Press Release 22 Dec 2023

Following the incidents in the Red Sea and the Bab El-Mandeb strait since 19 November 2023, the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) have agreed to designate the southern section of the Red Sea and the Strait as a High Risk Area with effect from 22 December 2023.

This means that seafarers transiting this area covered by IBF agreements will be entitled to:

  • A bonus that is equal to basic wage, payable for the duration of the transit;
  • Double compensation for death or disability;
  • Mandatory requirement to increase security arrangements equivalent to ISPS Level 3. 

This follows a period of close monitoring of the situation and analysis of subsequent risks to shipping and seafarers by the IBF’s ‘Warlike Operations Area Committee’ over the past few weeks. 

The social partners have become increasingly concerned about the actions taken by Houthi rebel forces who are threatening the safety of transiting seafarers and vessels in the Red Sea because of the Israel-Hamas war. The IBF calls upon states who have influence in the area to safeguard this globally important trade route to ensure the health and safety of the seafarers.

Speaking at the conclusion of the talks, the International Mariners’ Management Association of Japan and Joint Negotiating Group’s (JNG) Chair Toshihito Inoue said, “Sadly, seafarers are often at risk when there is war and global disruptions. After the initial attacks on vessels by Houthi rebels on the western coast of Yemen in the Red Sea, it is important to assess the threat to seafarers and shipping and urge the respective governments to take action to ensure the safety of the seafarers and thereby global trade. In addition, the social partners have a responsibility and JNG is confident that it has now introduced a designation which properly addresses concerns by seafarers transiting the Red Sea.

IMEC Chair Capt. Belal Ahmed added “The Red Sea and Suez Canal is a key shipping route. As an employers’ association, it was important for us to reassure seafarers who may be at additional risk in the area that they have appropriate coverage. We will also continue to lobby governments to step up their efforts in the region.”

ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair David Heindel said “These are trying times for the industry and especially seafarers, who are simply doing their jobs. While this is a sensitive political issue, for the seafarers it’s about their health and safety. We welcome the decisions made by several companies to pause or reroute vessels to avoid the risk of attack and we are pleased that our partners have responded positively to our request to reflect the potential risks that exist for all seafarers transiting the Red Sea at this time.” Heindel added; "We continue to call for governments to provide military support in the area and ensure the release of the Galaxy Leader crew.”

IBF will continue to closely monitor the situation and be ready to convene the WOAC quickly if the situation escalates.

The new High Risk Area is defined by the following coordinates but excludes twelve nautical miles off the coastline of Yemen which is already designated as a Warlike Operations Area (WOA):

In the Southern part of the Red Sea:

  • Commencing from the Saudi Arabia Border at 16°24.12 N and running West until Eritrea.
  • From the Southern side ending at the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Bab El Mandeb Strait running parallel to the Eritrea, Djibouti border.

In the Southern part of the Yemini Coast:

  • From the central Yemini Coast, a cross section commencing from Aden, a port in Yemen at 45°01.40 E and running South until the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) at 12°05.00 N.
  • From this position running west along the Recommended Security Corridor (RSC) until the Warlike Operations Area intercepts.


About the IBF:

  • The IBF negotiations include both central negotiations and local negotiations which allow for development of core principles which can then be incorporated into specific local arrangements. This unique approach to pay negotiations is the only example of international collective bargaining.
  • The IBF Seafarers’ Support Fund was created exclusively to support the welfare of seafarers aboard vessels covered by IBF agreements.

About the ITF:

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice for nearly 20 million working women and men in the transport industry across the world.

About the JNG:

The Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) allows for the coordination of the views of employers from across the world in the maritime industry. The JNG today consists of the International Maritime Employers' Council (IMEC), the International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ), the Korean Shipowners Association (KSA) and Taiwan-based company Evergreen.

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