The ITF and its member unions ver.di, the SUR (Seafarers’ Union of Russia) and MTWTU (Marine Transport Workers' Trade Union of Ukraine) are calling for a fast but reasoned response to the kidnapping of eight crew members of the BBC Caribbean in the Gulf of Guinea. The seafarers – seven Russians and a Ukrainian – were taken off the cargo ship by pirates and are believed to be being held hostage in Nigeria.
ITF seafarers’ section chair David Heindel stated: “This is an urgent and dangerous affair for these seafarers, and a deeply worrying time for their families. It requires a speedy response. We understand that the Russian Embassy is involved and if there is anything we can do to assist their diplomatic efforts to release the crew we will be pleased to do so.
“The ship is owned by Briese Schiffahrts and managed by one of their subsidiaries in St Petersburg, and we call on the company to engage with all parties to ensure the safety and release of the crew members. Again, we are available to assist. ”
He continued: “We would caution against any attempt to free these seafarers by means of a military raid at this time, given the risk to them inherent in such an operation. We would, however, like to see far more preventative action by the Nigerian armed forces, so that these situations are averted before they happen.”
Torben Seebold, maritime coordinator of the German trade union ver.di, which negotiates ITF agreements covering Briese Schiffahrts crews, stated: “We call for the immediate release of these men. Ver.di and the ITF are offering assistance to their families, and we are ready to help in any way we can to secure their fast and safe return. We expect that Briese Schiffahrts, our contractual partner, will similarly maintain close and intensive cooperation with the local authorities and also with the affected families.”