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Seafarers’ lives matter

news Press Release

The International Bargaining Forum’s (IBF) Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC) has unanimously agreed to designate the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden ‘Warlike’ to emphasise the seriousness of the situation.

This decision taken at a meeting on 12 March 2024 follows the Houthi attack on M/V True Confidence which resulted in the death of three seafarers.

Our first priority is the safety of seafarers.

Ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are Houthi missile targets, putting seafarers’ lives in grave danger. We strongly urge charterers, operators and shipowners to avoid passage through the area until there is no risk to the safety of seafarers from further attacks.

In the meantime, this body is calling for the diversion of vessels, avoiding the sailing through the Newly Established Warlike Area.

The IBF will be asking all employers and union affiliates to lobby their respective governments to intervene and act in the safety of seafarers.

The IBF Warlike Operations Area had been 12 nautical miles off the mainland Yemeni Coast. Today’s decision expands the Warlike area to cover the previous declared High Risk Area, which included the Southern Section of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, stretching across to the Eritrea coast. The Area encompasses the Bab El Mandeb Strait including the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) in its entirety within the Gulf of Aden.


  • The IBF was set up as a process in which maritime employers, represented by the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), and seafarers unions, represented by the International Transport-Workers’ Federation (ITF) could negotiate over the wages and conditions of employment of seafarers serving on ships to which ITF Special Agreements apply.
  • The last meeting of the IBF WOAC on 7 February agreed to expand the High Risk Area to include the Gulf of Aden.

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.

About the IBF: The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) is the forum that brings together the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the international maritime employers that make up the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG). 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. 

About the ITF:  The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of 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 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.