Different opinions about seafarers’ minimum wage remain unresolved
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) crossed swords with shipowners and unions over seafarers’ minimum wages, with fruitless results. All parties refused to back down on their conditions.
Hard bargains from both sides
During the two-day discussion conducted at the International Labour Organisation, the ITF sought a daily $1.40 wage increase from the current monthly rate of $641 (prior set in 2018). This translates to a 6.5 per cent increment, amounting to $683 monthly. The ITF also proposed the plan to be in force in January 2022. Unfortunately, both the seafarers’ unions and shipowners rejected the proposal.
Instead, the shipowners counter-proposed a 3 percent increment progressively across three consecutive years – which equates to a net amount of $645 in 2022, $648 in 2023 and $660 2024 respectively. The seafarers’ union turned down the offer. They cited the ILO process from the International Chamber of Shipping’s principle – implying this arrangement will deny seafarers a minimum wage increment for 2 years.
Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs at the International Chamber of Shipping, noted: “Unfortunately, the seafarers’ representatives rejected a generous offer from the shipowners in these unprecedented times. We went further than anticipated but the offer was still rejected. Nevertheless, our door is always open.”
ITF to champion the cause
The ITF argued for a $683 monthly minimum wage to commence in January 2022, consistent with the ILO formula set in 2018 (a $1.40 daily increment from the current $641 monthly minimum wage).
Mark Dickinson, Seafarers Group Spokesperson at the ILO and Vice-Chair of the Seafarers’ Section from the ITF, lamented: “For only the second time in the history of these negotiations, both the shipowners and seafarers failed to agree a revised minimum wage. The shipowners demonstrated an astounding lack of self-awareness and respect for seafarers’ sacrifices– especially for the past 14 months.” The ITF added failure to agree means it will now unilaterally advise the ILO on the 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 established media profiles during the crew change crisis to support our campaign for pay fairness for seafarers. Our door remains open for further talks should common sense prevails,” Dickinson added.