Shipowners and unions agree new three-year minimum wage deal for seafarers

At a time of global inflation not seen for more than 40 years where household items prices are soaring, seafarers, repeatedly hailed by the industry as heroes during the pandemic, have been granted a 4% pay increase for the coming three years.

The United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) again convened negotiations between shipowners and seafarers’ unions from across the world, coordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

During the previous round of talks, which concluded at the UN ILO in September last year, shipowners and seafarers set the minimum wage at $648 per month from July 1, 2022. The latest round of negotiations produced a new three-year deal through annual increases, starting at $658 on January 1 next year, followed by $666 and $673 in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

“This new deal is a win-win for both shipowners and seafarers,” said Charles Darr, of the Swiss Shipowners’ Association, and spokesperson for the shipowners group.

The deal applies universally to the rating grade of able seafarer and is widely recognised by the global shipping community. Shipping is the only sector with a formally recognised global minimum wage, which has existed for seafarers since 1958.

Mark Dickinson from Nautilus International, an affiliate of the ITF, and spokesperson for the seafarers group, added: “Today’s agreement recognises the huge sacrifices and professionalism of the men and women working at sea and is a testament to the collective milestones the social partnership between seafarers and shipowners have historically achieved. Especially over the past few years.”

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.


    On one side you have the minimum wage which was set at $648 from July 1, 2022 with a three-year deal through annual increases ending at $673 in 2025. While on the other side you have the Sea freights earning more in 2021 than they did in the previous decade, as Covid-19, congestion, and inflation have seen rates climb to stratospheric levels (“Sea Intelligence”). Notably also the excruciating Container shipping profits in 2021-2022 which hit $300 billion (“Drewry”).
    The controversy and exploitation of the “Key Maritime Workers” are obvious by the … INCREASE OF MONTHLY SALARY BY… 25$ TWENTY-FIVE USD (… PROGRESSIVELY TO 3.8%!!!) UNTIL 2025!!! The Seafarers’ salaries are earned in support of their families back home where the local inflation rates currently run from 10-70% in Seafarers’ origin countries.
    Seafarers are trapped by, and they have been always the Victims of their own Federation and Unions who “sign” the deals on their behalf…
    And the Maritime Industry is chopping the branch of the tree it is climbing on… and will have to look to the “fully autonomous” ships’ payout, before it will attempt surviving through todays’ Oceans…

    1. Tell us what the basic wage is is in Sri Lanka? $135.
      The Philippines? Minimum daily wage in Manila region to about US$10 a day.
      And so on. Get real.
      You are conflating local and global.

      1. Should that be any consolation? Should they not be paid for the work they do and its value and not for what local conditions are? Just asking? After training and certification, and the nature of the job should they not be properly compensated? Seafarers are perhaps the only profession where they have to be a combination of persons facing a combination of work-risks well above most, if not all other professions. Seafarers have to be security personnel, humanitarian personnel, environmental custodians, in addition to the operations of the ship and its cargo. They carry dangerous goods, they do cargo operations, sometimes port operations, tight ship scheduling etc etc. They face criminalisation, piracy, other work and lifestyle health issues….Of course this varies with the sector, owners, trade routes etc etc etc. It is a heterogenous industry.

        Therefore, while I would disagree with the above writer and not place an indictment on the unions etc and acknowledge the efforts I believe they have made in securing even that measly amount (as I have an idea what these negotiations take to reach a compromise), I agree with the writer about pointing out the earnings that ships have made and the reluctance of owners to ‘honour’ seafarers by putting their money where their mouth is. As I have feared, all this talk about seafarers and their contribution to world trade and how they kept and are keeping world trade afloat during the pandemic is just talk. Where is the action to back that up in a manner that really means something to seafarers? One way is for them to see this in their pockets, where they too can recover from the strains of the pandemic by having more money to help families etc.

        1. You seem to be missing the point. The vast majority of seafarers do receive a reasonable wage and paying high wages leads to massive corruption which does no-one any good.
          It also results in more of the best people leaving their homeland, which again is bad for it. Paying seafarers more money is not going to solve poverty.
          Where is the money those poor countries need to develop, to educates females etc? UN Agenda 21 helped some but was held back by certain interests.
          Ex Captain Boffey.

        2. If you truly are concerned I suggest you look at the conditions seafarers work under on Spanish, Korean and Taiwanese deep sea fishing vessels There are many thousands of them who get paid a pittance for working long hours in very dangerous conditions, very often on vessels fishing illegally.
          These vessels transfer their catches to “mother” ships and crew changes, storing etc. are carried out at sea. When they do dock at a port with controls, eg for dry-docking, they usually have a temporary crew on board

  2. One of the unfortunate problems with setting a high minimum wage, which this is in the context of many countries, is that it leads to corruption. This was very common in the Philippines and one of the reasons reputable owners / managers set up their own operations there.
    Sadly, some people see minimum wages from the viewpoint of their own lives of relative luxury, totally ignoring the reality of conditions in other countries.

  3. Nobody ain’t gonna increase ..they will increase something and will decrease some other thing so Total wage per month will be same for seafarer’s
    Just like always win win situation for management companies

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