Friday, June 7, 2019

Ship Owners and Maritime Unions Appeal Over Securing Containers and Cargo On Board  

In Six Months New Regulations Come Into Effect on ITF Registered Vessels

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Shipping News Feature WORLDWIDE – There is more than a note of concern in the latest from the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) of maritime employers and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) regarding scheduled changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that were agreed at the last International Bargaining Forum (IBF) negotiations in February 2018, and specifically to the 'Dockers Clause', which comes into effect 1 January 2020.

The IBF was formed in 2003 as a mechanism for collective bargaining between maritime employers and maritime unions over the wages and conditions of employment for seafarers serving on foreign flag ships covered by ITF Special Agreements. Maritime employers are represented by the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), the International Shipping Employers' Group (ISEG) which incorporates the International Maritime Managers’ Association of Japan (IMMAJ) and the Taiwanese company Evergreen, and the Korean Shipowners' Association (KSA).

Together these form the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) which allows maritime employers to present to the ITF a coordinated view of employers from across the world. Both parties have continuously reminded the respective companies of the upcoming change to the IBF requirements in the Dockers Clause and are strongly encouraging those companies affected to take concrete action to ensure that they are compliant by the mandatory inception date, just 6 months away.

The amended Dockers Clause lays out procedures for loading and unloading operations in port which the proponents say better safeguard the ship’s crew and the dockers right to do the work. On 23 February 2018, the ITF’s expanded Fair Practices Committee Steering Group (FPC SG) met and approved the terms of the new IBF Agreement.

The members of the FPC SG highlighted the new terms agreed in Article 4, Non-Seafarers Work or the Dockers’ Clause, as it is often referred to, as a significant development in securing work for dockers. The revised clause and the new implementation procedure clarifies the dockers right to carry out lashing and other cargo handling services in ports.

Upon reaching that settlement in 2018, the parties to the IBF acknowledged that the new Dockers Clause might require a substantial change to existing arrangements with stevedoring companies, charterers and other third parties. Therefore, a deferment period, no longer than 1 January 2020, was agreed for implementing certain provisions of the respective CBA article for container vessels operating in the following areas; Baltic Sea, Canada, North Europe and West Europe excluding Mediterranean Sea (European sub-regions as defined by the European Union).

Certainly the lashing of containers on board ships has often proved contentious and has led to both death and serious injury to crews and dockers alike over many years, something often pointed out by marine insurance professionals. Now, with the scheduled changes due in just a few months the hope is that only properly qualified personnel will in future be responsible for securing cargoes aboard registered vessels.

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