Critical International Agreement Reached Between Seafarers and Shipping Companies

A meeting between the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and a peak body representing shipping companies, the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), has concluded in Indonesia.

paddy IBF

After two days of intense negotiations, meetings have concluded with an International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Framework Agreement, which will cover conditions for seafarers from 2015 – 2017.

This round of negotiations, which started in October 2013 in Russia, were particularly challenging given that the global shipping industry was facing a depression. 

Despite this, an agreement that cemented pay rises and an improvement in conditions for workers was achieved. 

Some of the main outcomes included: A salary increase of 1 per cent in 2015, 2 per cent in 2016 and 3.5 per cent in 2017; changes to various contractual clauses; and enhanced welfare support for seafarers.

ITF president and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin (above, far left) reported from Indonesia that he was satisfied that a reasonable agreement had been made.

"The negotiations were understandably difficult given the market conditions, but notwithstanding that the successful conclusion is a reflection of the maturity of social dialogue and engagement within this aspect of the shipping industry,” Crumlin said. 

“In a truly international industry employing seafarers from virtually every nation, reaching a single standard of employment that is enforceable and supported by the social partners is an extraordinary achievement”

Commenting on the two days of intense negotiations Dave Heindel, chairman of the ITF Seafarers' Section and chairman of the talks, said considerable progress had been made from both the ITF and JNG representatives. 

“The ITF has understood the challenges facing the JNG members in their ability to afford a pay increase, but it has been important to secure a pay increase for our members, to ensure a fair wage and conditions of employment,” Heindel said. 

“There have at times been differing views by both parties, but both have been able to put aside these differences to conclude the negotiations.”

JNG Chairman Mr Tsutomu Iizuka said the last eight months of discussions had been tough.

“Both sides commenced the progress at different ends of the spectrum, wishing to best represent their respective members,” Mr Iizuka said. 

“There has been considerable movement from each side, which has been difficult at times and has only been possible due to the mutual respect between the parties to the IBF, gained over the past 10 years.”