London: There’s under three months until the shipping industry finds out what wages it will be paying to its seafarers going forward and those at the negotiating table are still bargaining hard. Giles Heimann, the ceo of the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), is not willing to reveal where negotiations have led so far.
IMEC is an employer-led organisation dedicated to maritime industrial relations with approximately 190 members across the world. Together they own or manage over 9,700 vessels and employ in excess of 210,000 of all nationalities.
In June this year the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) will finish negotiating the latest IBF Collective Bargaining Agreements setting out the wage scales and conditions of employment for seafarers serving on ships to which ITF Special Agreements apply.
The IBF was set up in 2003 by IMEC and the ITF based on the principle that it is much better to negotiate over wages and conditions than to constantly be at odds. The IBF is the only model of international collective bargaining in the marine industry. Employers are now represented by IMEC, the International Maritime Managers’ Association of Japan (IMMAJ), the Korean Shipowners Association (KSA) and the Taiwanese company Evergreen. As well as setting wage scales, the IBF agrees the designation of high risk areas and makes available funds for the professional development and welfare of seafarers.
“It’s too early to speculate about the final outcome of this round of IBF negotiations,” says Heimann, adding: “However, there is a common understanding that the maritime industries have suffered in recent years. While we may see the green shoots of recovery, shipowners and managers are still under great pressure to minimise costs and remain viable employers.”
Heimann, a former seafarer himself, says that while IMEC and ITF may have different viewpoints, he is confident that the agreement the two organisations reach this year will recognise the challenges IMEC members face and respect the interests and livelihoods of the seafarers on which the industry depends. All will be revealed in June. [26/03/14]