Photo: International Maritime Organization

Negotiations Over Seafarers’ Minimum Wage Increase Break Down

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 8154
April 29, 2021

Negotiations over the global minimum wage for seafarers have broken down after seafarers’ unions and shipowners failed to agree on a figure following two days of discussions at the International Labor Organization.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing the seafarers, sought a $1.40 per day increase from the current $641 monthly minimum wage last set in 2018, equating to $683 per month or a 6.5% per month increase starting January 2022.

During the discussions, shipowners put forward a deal to increase the basic minimum wage by 3% for seafarers across the world over 3 years. The offer would increase minimum wage per month from $641 to $645 beginning January 2022, $645 to $648 beginning January 2023, and $660 from January 2024.

The seafarers’ unions rejected the offer, which according to the ILO process would mean that able seafarers will now not be entitled to a rise in the minimum wage for 2 years, according to the International Chamber of Shipping, which is the organization representing the shipowners.

“Unfortunately the seafarers’ representatives rejected a generous offer from the shipowners in these unprecedented times,” said Natalie Shaw, Director Employment Affairs at the International Chamber of Shipping. “We went further than we had anticipated but the offer was still rejected. However, our door is always open.”

The ITF had argued for a $683 per month minimum wage beginning in January 2022, which would have been consistent with the ILO formula set in 2018 (of a $1.40 per day increase from the current $641 monthly minimum wage).

“For only the second time in the long history of these negotiations the shipowners and the seafarers have failed to agree a revised minimum wage for seafarers. And that’s wholly the fault of the shipowners, who have behaved with such an astounding lack of self-awareness and a lack of respect for the sacrifices of seafarers – especially these past 14 months,” said Mark Dickinson, Seafarers Group Spokesperson at the ILO and Vice-Chair of the Seafarers’ Section the ITF.

The ITF said failure to agree means it will now unilaterally advise the ILO on minimum wage rate.

“We maintain that the revised ILO minimum wage for an able seafarer is a minimum of US$683 per month from the first of January 2022 and we will advise our affiliates and the ILO Governing Body accordingly. We are now making preparations to engage robustly with industry stakeholders and wider society to promulgate our views. We will use the extensive networks and media profile established during the crew change crisis to support our campaign for pay fairness for seafarers,” Dickinson said.

“Our door remains open for further talks should commonsense prevail,” he added.


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