After two days of talks at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), negotiations on setting a new minimum wage for seafarers over the coming three years have broken down between seafarer unions and shipowners. Shipowners’ offer representing a 3% pay rise for seafarers across the world was rejected.
The figures offered by shipowners for the minimum wage for seafarers for a three-year deal were per month from $641 to $645 for 2022, $645 to $648 for 2023 and $660 for 2024.
Natalie Shaw, director of employment affairs at the International Chamber of Shipping representing shipowners, said she was disappointed a deal had not been struck, but added: “Our door is always open.”
According to the ILO process a failure to strike a deal means that able seafarers will now not be entitled to a rise in the minimum wage for two years.
The seafarers’ unions said today 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.”