The social partners, namely the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), convened in Geneva at the Joint Maritime Commission Subcommittee on Seafarers Wages to review the ILO Minimum Wage for an Able Seafarer (AB) provided for in Code B of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (as amended).
The decision, following two days of negotiations, was to update the minimum wage for an able seafarer by 27 USD over the next 3 years. The wages will provide an overall increase of 4.5% on the current rate of 614 USD, with an increase of 4 USD as of 1 July 2019, followed by an increase of 7 USD as of 1 January 2020 and a final increase of 16 USD as of 1 January 2021.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the meeting had previously been re-scheduled from June 2018 and the social partners, with the support of the ILO Office, were presented with the current consumer prices changes indices and the impact of fluctuation of the USD in the countries agreed to represent the basis for a formula for the calculation of the recommended minimum wage for an AB.
It was noted that during the period taken into account for the calculation the 614 USD, which is 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 Social partners provided reasoned arguments and economic forecasts to support their respective positions, including the volatility of the shipping industry, and the necessity to recognize the seafarers’ commitment and the need to agree fair and sustainable conditions.
“This was a difficult negotiation with two very different assessments about what the future holds for shipping and seafarers”, admitted Mark Dickinson, the Seafarers’ Group spokesperson. “We started slowly but gained momentum as the parties exchanged opinions and provided arguments to support their positions. There was strong opposition from the shipowners 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.” He added, “It is an example the social partners 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.”
Max Johns, the Shipowners’ Group spokesperson explained that “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”.