The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the employers’ representative Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) have come to an agreement on pay and conditions for seafarers working in the war hit seas around Ukraine.

Under the agreement the northern Black Sea and Sea of Azov have been designated a War Like Operations Area. Seafarers who work under the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) collective bargaining agreement will be entitled to benefits when working in the region.

The benefits include a bonus equal to basic pay and payable for a minimum of five days, the right to refuse to sail — with repatriation and compensation at the company’s cost — and double compensation for death and disability.

“The escalation in hostilities and conflict in Ukraine has put enormous pressure on seafarers of all nations and an industry already labouring under the demands and challenges of the pandemic,” the JNG and ITF said in a joint statement.

“The parties agreed that the welfare of seafarers and the protection of their rights in this unprecedented situation was paramount to the spirit and intent of the IBF agreement.”

IBF agreements cover around 9,000 ships.

The move comes following a number of attacks on shipping following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

Further discussions between the ITF and JNG are understood to be taking place on protocols to ensure the safety of seafarers in the region.

There are also discussions on providing refugee arrangements for Ukrainian seafarers and their families.

Russia and the Ukraine are both major labour supply countries to the shipping industry, with many seafarers from both countries working under IBF agreements.

The ITF, which has affiliate seafarer unions in both the Ukraine and Russia, has been calling for and end to the war, and the Russian withdrawal from Ukraine.

In a statement, made together with the European Transport Workers’ Federation, the ITF said: “We stand alongside the global labour movement and the international community in condemning the war, and call on all parties to adhere strictly to international and human rights law. This conflict must stop now.”