Friday, November 23, 2018

Ship Owners and Seafarer Unions Agree Basic Wage for Crews Worldwide

Mutual Terms for Increase in Able Seaman Minimum Pay Rates Finalised
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – As we predicted earlier this week, a Subcommittee of the Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) has agreed on a Resolution raising the minimum monthly basic wage figure for able seafarers. The rise in rates however was less than the $50 per month sought by maritime unions. The parties, which included the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), settled on increasing the minimum wage for an able seafarer to $641 per month over the next 3 years.

In reviewing the ILO Minimum Wage for an Able Seafarer, provided for in Code B of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (as amended), the decision, following two days of negotiations, was to steadily increase the minimum wage by $27 over the next 3 years, an overall rise of 4.5% on the current rate of $614 per month, with an increase of $4 as of July 1, 2019, followed by a further boost of $7 as of January 1, 2020 and a final increase of $16 as of January 1, 2021.

The meeting had previously been re-scheduled from June 2018 and the parties involved in the subcommittee, with the support of the ILO Office, were presented with the current consumer prices changes indices and the impact of the fluctuation of the US Dollar, to represent the basis for a formula for the calculation of the recommended minimum wage for an able seafarer.

It was noted that during the period taken into account for the calculation that $614, the current ILO minimum wage rate for an able seafarer, was below the purchasing power stated in the ILO report prepared for consideration at the meeting.

The ITF and ICS, in collaboration with other partners, say that they provided reasoned arguments and economic forecasts to support their respective positions, including the volatility of the shipping industry, and the necessity to recognise the seafarers’ commitment and the need to agree fair and sustainable conditions. Mark Dickinson, the Nautilus General Secretary speaking on behalf of seafarers, commented:

“This was a difficult negotiation with two very different assessments about what the future holds for shipping and seafarers. We started slowly but gained momentum as the parties exchanged opinions and provided arguments to support their positions. There was strong opposition from the ship owners’ side for a significant increase. However, I am pleased that at the end pragmatism and common sense prevailed and the social partners worked their way forward to recognise the fundamental role seafarers play within the industry.

“The principles of social dialogue, which is the basis of a more efficient, fair and progressive industry, were once again demonstrated by the unity of the maritime industry in securing an outcome which was acceptable by all parties. It is an example the social partners [ITF, ICS, among others] should be pleased with.

“We will continue to work together to find ways to ensure that the ILO formula used as the basis for these negotiations is fair and reflects the reality for seafarers, but the impact of this session of the JMC negotiation on the global seafaring community is undoubtedly a good and equitable result.”

The Maritime Labour Convention, known as the ‘seafarers’ bill of rights’, entered into force in August 2013, and has been ratified by 89 ILO member States, representing over 91% of world shipping tonnage. Max Johns, Managing Director of the German Shipowners' Association and representing Shipowners’ at the meeting, explained;

“Following active discussions on the current difficult challenges facing our industry, and the importance of preserving future employment for seafarers, I am very pleased to advise that we were able to work together to come to an acceptable result for both parties.”

Photo: The process of discussing adequate rates of pay for seafarers is not a new one. This was the original Joint Maritime Commission, the only permanent bipartite standing body of the ILO pictured in 1920, and is composed of ship owner and seafarer representatives from across the globe.