At the meeting of the International Bargaining Forum in Manila on 1 October over 60 delegates from 17 countries reached agreement on a number of issues lodged by the ITF and the Joint Negotiating Group relating to the wages and employment conditions affecting seafarers serving on flag of convenience ships.
Under the terms of the agreement, a working group has been established to review the system adopted by the IBF to allocate wage increases between cash and social issues and between officer and ratings grades. It is expected that the working group will prepare a report during 2010 concerning any possible changes that might be made to the current system and it has been agreed that changes to the current wages rates and other wage related issues covered by the claims of the ITF and the JNG will be put on hold until this work is concluded.
Meanwhile, the IBF also agreed to release substantial funds to enhance recruitment, training, skills enhancement, employment promotion and career development for seafarers with effect from 1 January 2010.
Speaking after the meeting the JNG and ISEG Chairman, Captain T. Manji said:
" This outcome represents a pragmatic reaction to a very difficult economic situation affecting the shipping industry. None of the various problems facing us were easy to deal with and the discussions with ITF were difficult and at times frustrating. But overall we are satisfied with the result."
The ITF spokesman, Paddy Crumlin said:
" The negotiations have been particularly difficult this time given the economic situation faced by the industry and the serious problems this has caused for many of our members. But the IBF system has been able to cope with these strains and the outcome provides further positive developments on which we can build our relationships that are essential to the industry."
The JNG spokesman and IMEC Chairman, Ian Sherwood said:
" Looking at the positive points about this outcome, IMEC members will be particularly satisfied at the renewed commitment to training and employment promotion that has emerged from the settlement. With very tight economic conditions affecting us, the new funding for training and recruitment will be very welcome."
During the concluding part of the negotiations, all parties also recognised the terrible devastation that had been caused by tropical storm Ondoy in the previous days. As a result, the members of the IBF agreed unanimously to provide an immediate donation of US$100,000, from the parties within the IBF, to a disaster relief fund to assist those Filipino citizens most in need of support in this time of crisis.