The world’s seafarers yesterday took the extraordinary decision to shut down negotiations over the future of seafarers’ minimum wages with national shipowners represented by the International Chamber of Shipping. The seafarers’ unions said they would prefer to tackle the shipping companies ‘head-on’ to set wages unilaterally rather than risk decades of established ILO practices by agreeing to employers’ demands to ditch objective ILO minimum wage calculations.
“For only the second time in the long history of these negotiations the shipowners and the seafarers have failed to agree a revised minimum wage for seafarers. And that’s wholly the fault of the shipowners, who have behaved with such an astounding lack of self-awareness and a lack of respect for the sacrifices of seafarers – especially these past 14 months,” said Mark Dickinson, Seafarers Group Spokesperson at the ILO and Vice-Chair of the Seafarers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
“By initially holding to ransom any kind of pay rise – even a dollar – to their plan to blow up the ILO formula, the shipowners expose their long-term strategy to undermine the social dialogue that has been so critical to the success and stability of this industry for years, and in doing so threaten the cooperation that we’ve seen throughout the global pandemic.”
Shipowners’ pay freeze sets industry up for labour shortage
Dickinson said new research from the ITF showed a quarter of seafarers were considering quitting the industry already due to the ongoing crew change crisis and another 23 percent of seafarers were unsure about their future, suggesting a seafarer supply crunch was looming. Covid-era ravel, transit and border restrictions meant a prospective seafarer might not see their family for years, he said.