ITF president Paddy Crumlin. Credit: ITF
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and maritime employers comprising the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) have concluded negotiations to raise seafarers’ wages, highlight the risks of piracy off Somalia and Yemen, and enhance seafarers’ welfare as part of the creation of the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Framework Agreement.
The agreement came after four days of meetings in Manila, the Philippines, that ended on 22 February.
“The negotiations have been particularly challenging this time around due to the profit instabilities in certain parts of the industry,” the ITF said. “Both parties acknowledged the need to support the growth of the market, but also the need to maintain sustainable and fair employment for the seafarers employed on JNG vessels worldwide.”
Clauses in the agreement will now be valid for a four-year period, with a review of the wages after two years. The main points of the agreement were:
• A salary increase of 2.5% from 1 January 2019
• An increase in JNG members’ rebate from the ITF Welfare Fund to 16%, with an additional 2% available based on an incentive system
• Re-grading of the Warlike Area off the coast of Somalia to a High Risk Area and the addition of a Warlike Area 12 n miles off the mainland coast of Yemen
• Changes to various contractual clauses, including a revision to the article covering non-seafarers’ work, effective 1 March 2018
• Enhanced welfare support for seafarers
“We are committed to ensuring we gain and maintain fair wages and safe working conditions for seafarers and dockers across the world,” said Dave Heindel, chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Section.
The conclusion of the framework agreement comes after an impasse that occurred at an earlier meeting in Tokyo in July 2017. Attempts to agree on a new framework failed at that time due to challenging conditions plaguing some shipping segments.
“The past 14 months have been particularly tough,” said JNG spokesman Rajesh Tandon, who chaired the talks. “The forum originally met in Tokyo last July, with the full intention to conclude at that time. However, it quickly became apparent that neither party was in a position to move at that stage. A lot of work has gone on in the interim, including concessions to address the Dockers’ concerns, which has allowed the forum to re-negotiate and conclude a mutually acceptable agreement.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin added, “Seafarers and dockers face serious challenges on a daily basis, and it is absolutely essential that their needs are at the forefront of these negotiations.”
Established on 9 May 2003, the IBF’s collective bargaining agreement covers more than 200,000 seafarers.