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Seafarer safety in the Red Sea must come first

news Press Release 08 Mar 2024

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) says not enough has been done to guarantee the safety of seafarers in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and the loss of life following the Houthi attack on M/V True Confidence is a tragedy because of that. 

The ITF are calling on governments to address the very real issue of what must happen now, and implementing meaningful and immediate safety measures to ensure the safety of seafarers. 

The attack on the True Confidence is evidence that armed guards on vessels cannot protect seafarers from missiles, and that urgent and immediate action needs to be put in place by governments, shipping companies on an international level to ensure that no further seafarer lives are lost.

ITF affiliate the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) has said in its statement: “We call on all the maritime stakeholders and concerned United Nations organizations and government agencies to work together with the end in mind of providing not only immediate assistance to the surviving families, but also taking necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of our seafarers working onboard ships in the warlike and high-risk areas of international waters. Concerted efforts must also be made by the industry so that this kind of tragedy will not happen again.”

The ITF supports AMOSUP’s immediate demands in calling for:

  • The urgent repatriation of the remains of the seafarers killed
  • For those seafarers injured in the attack to be awarded financial compensation in line with the International Bargaining Forum agreement
  • For the seafarers affected to be given access to mental health services.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said: “All too often it is transport workers that suffer the consequence of companies that want to squeeze every penny of profits they can. All too frequently we see seafarers exposed to unacceptable exploitation and abuse, and that must stop now.

“We believe that this recent tragedy brings into sharp focus the need for Flags of Convenience system to be reevaluated and preferably abolished because who will protect Panamanian, Liberian and Marshall Islands ships?”

“It is time that shipowners, managers, charterers and insurers join with us and say: ‘We will not put our seafarers in harm’s way’.”

ITF has called for an urgent meeting with partners in the Joint Negotiating Group of international maritime employers, where ITF representatives will be calling for acknowledgement that the Red Sea is not safe and action taken to suspend all transit.


About the ITF:  The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a global, democratic, affiliate-led movement of 740 transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 153 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the 20 million transport workers who move the world. 

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