Better conditions for seafarers agreed to

Unions hail new seafarer conditions
28 Sep 2007, Safety at Sea International

LONDON 28 September – Satisfied maritime unions have celebrated changes to seafarers’ pay and conditions that will take effect from January. After painstaking talks that took them from Sydney to Tokyo to London, the International Bargaining Forum reached agreement yesterday on improved conditions for 70,000 seafarers of all nationalities serving over 3,500 ships.

The changes cover increases in wage levels, extended maternity leave and changes in contractual clauses to incorporate the ILO Maritime Labour Convention. Under the terms of the new agreement, no seafarer for example will work more than eight hours a day from Monday to Friday.

Additionally, no seafarer employed in the deck or engine departments who is 21 or over and is not a trainee shall be paid any less than the equivalent rate of an ordinary seaman. ITF Spokesman Brian Orrell expressed satisfaction that the IBF had agreed to establish IBF Developed Economy Ratings Funds to encourage employment to seafarers from traditional maritime nations. “It’s a significant step forward to show that as social partners we can actually bring forward some of the rights within the Maritime Labour Convention before it even gets ratified [in around 2011],” said Nautilus chief Brian Orrell.

Ian Sherwood, chairman of the International Maritime Employers Committee, added that that there were a number of measures that also appealed to the employer organisations. “It reflects the supply and demand situation that we currently face for officers,” he said.

Here is the press release from the ITF

Seafarers win pay rise and progress on contracts

3 October 2007

Seventy thousand seafarers could benefit from a substantial wage rise and significant contractual changes after an agreement was reached at a meeting of the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) last week.

The IBF – comprised of ITF representatives and the joint negotiating group (JNG), which brings together employers’ groups – met in London, UK, on 27 September. During the meeting they agreed on changes to seafarers’ pay and conditions to take effect on 1 January 2008. The IBF agreements cover some 70,000 seafarers of all nationalities employed on over 3,500 ships.

The agreement includes an eight per cent wage increase and a change in contracts in line with the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention. Both ITF and employers’ representatives commented that amending crew contracts towards full compliance with the convention was a considerable achievement. They considered that the IBF contracts were in the forefront of making the industry as a whole compliant with the best and most recent international labour standards for seafarers.

ITF spokesperson, Brian Orrell, expressed particular satisfaction regarding another key outcome of the negotiations: an agreement to establish IBF developed economy ratings funds. This would encourage companies to offer employment to seafarers from traditional maritime nations who had suffered major job losses during the past two decades. “This shows,” he said, “that the IBF can create innovative solutions to problems and improve the overall standards in the industry to all parties.”

The JNG spokesperson, Ian Sherwood, stated that there were a number of measures agreed by the IBF that appealed to the employer organisations. The agreements on implementing IBF contracts more effectively and more flexibly were of particular importance and most welcome.

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