ITF decries ‘kneejerk scapegoating’ of mariners

The following is text of a press release issued by the International Transport Workers’ Federation:

(LONDON) — The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Shipping Federation (ISF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have joined forces in a new initiative to help protect seafarers involved in maritime accidents. The three organisations, which represent maritime employers and trade unions worldwide, announced today in London that they have united to support and promote the IMO and ILO Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers In The Event Of A Maritime Accident.

As part of the campaign the three organisations are distributing posters (supported by websites and leaflets) worldwide to show seafarers how the Guidelines can help protect them.  They are also encouraging their members –  national shipowners’ associations belonging to the ISF and ICS, and seafarers’ unions affiliated to the ITF – to approach their governments in order to promote the Guidelines and to monitor how effectively they are being implemented.

ISF/ICS Secretary General, Tony Mason explained: “As responsible employers, we believe its is very important that the IMO/ILO Guidelines, which represent the internationally accepted minimum standard for the fair treatment of seafarers by investigating authorities, are indeed implemented in practice by governments.  Seafarers must be treated with dignity and respect, and given access to independent legal representation in situations where they may be interviewed or held following an accident at sea.”

ITF General Secretary, David Cockroft, remarked: “The knee-jerk scapegoating of seafarers following accidents at sea is a growing concern to us all.  In recent years the response of too many national authorities has been to reach for the handcuffs first and find out what actually happened last.

 “Incidents like these prove how vital the Guidelines are. I’m proud to say that the ITF and ISF in their capacity as ILO ‘social partners’, with support from ICS and other industry organisations, helped to develop these Guidelines, which were the product of tripartite negotiations with governments prior to their agreement by IMO and ILO.”


Speaking at a press conference to launch the joint effort the two men displayed the Maritime Accidents. Seafarers – Be Aware! posters that the organisations are distributing for use on ships, in seafarers’ missions and in other locations around the world.  These can also be downloaded from either or, where the IMO/ILO Guidelines also appear in full.


Meanwhile the three organisations are sending the following letter to the Secretary-General of the IMO and the Director-General of the ILO:


To Mr E E Mitropoulos, IMO Secretary-General, and Mr Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General


1 February 2008


Dear Mr Mitropoulos and Mr Somavia,




We are writing with regard to a joint campaign being launched today by the International Shipping Federation (ISF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to promote the Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident, adopted by IMO and ILO in 2006. 


As you are both well aware, the treatment by national authorities of seafarers unfortunate enough to be involved in maritime casualties or pollution incidents is an extremely important issue for the shipping industry, especially in the light of recent high profile cases around the world, where masters and crews have been detained by investigating authorities, apparently without adherence to proper due legal process.  It was, of course, such incidents that led to the adoption by governments of the IMO/ILO Fair Treatment Guidelines, in order to address the key responsibilities of detaining States as well as those of the vessel’s flag State and the seafarers’ country of residence. 


It is therefore very important that the IMO/ILO Guidelines, which represent the internationally accepted minimum standard for the treatment of seafarers by investigating authorities, are implemented by governments, and we are now actively promoting the IMO/ILO Guidelines throughout the industry.  As part of our global campaign we are distributing posters worldwide to show seafarers how the Guidelines can help protect them, and we are encouraging our members, who of course are national maritime employers’ associations and national seafarers’ unions, to approach governments to promote the Guidelines and monitor how effectively they are being implemented.  For information, a copy of the poster drawing attention to the Guidelines is enclosed.


We are sure that IMO and ILO will welcome this campaign by the industry’s social partners and our objective of ensuring that these important IMO/ILO Guidelines are indeed implemented in practice.


Yours faithfully


Tony Mason                                                     David Cockcroft

Secretary General, ICS/ISF                              General Secretary, ITF




For more details please contact:


ITF press officer Sam Dawson. Email: Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260

ICS/ISF spokesperson Simon Bennett. Email: +44 (0)20 7417 8844



For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.

International Transport Workers’ Federation – ITF:
ITF House, 49 – 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871

By Professional Mariner Staff