International maritime unions and employers start discussions over Strait of Hormuz crisis

25 July 2019

Nautilus International has welcomed a commitment by social partners in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) to try to reach agreement on the status of vessels transiting the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

Beginning this week, the discussions come in the wake of 10 weeks of increased aggression against merchant ships in the area, culminating with the seizure of the Stena Impero on 19 July.

Maritime employers will be represented by the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), with unions represented by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Nautilus is a member of the ITF and will be present at the discussions.

'The industry was shocked with the attacks off the coast of Fujairah on 12 May and it has been unsettling to witness the series of events over the ten weeks following,' said the JNG’s chair Capt Koichi Akamine. 'Seafarers working onboard merchant vessels who should have been accorded the right of freedom of innocent passage have been caught up in the situation, causing great distress to them and their families. The JNG will engage in dialogue with the ITF to look at how we can best ensure the welfare of the seafarers sailing within the region.'

Speaking on behalf of the ITF, David Heindel, chair of the Seafarers' Section, said: 'Such exposure of seafarers working on merchant vessels to life and safety risks is totally unacceptable. Our concerns for their welfare are equally shared by all constituents of the IBF. We jointly call for a diplomatic solution to the situation and to de-escalate tensions in the region, urging governments to use maximum efforts to have the crew of the Stena Impero released. We also call on governments to assure safe passage of commercial vessels in the Straits of Hormuz.'

The parties of the IBF have made a commitment to monitor the situation over the coming week and re-group for discussions next week.