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Seafarers pay deal and cargo lashing understanding agreed at IBF

Global seafarers' union body the International Transport Workers' Federations (ITF) and the employers' Join Negotiating Group (JNG) have reached a new International Bargaining Forum Framework Agreement which includes a pay rise for seafarers and a new clause clarifying dockers’ right to carry out lashing and other cargo handling services in ports. The IBF was formed in 2003 as a mechanism for collective bargaining between maritime employers and maritime unions over the wages and conditions of employment for seafarers serving on foreign flag ships covered by ITF Special Agreements.


A joint statement says that negotiations were particularly challenging this time around, due to the “profit instabilities in certain parts of the industry”. Both parties acknowledged the need to support the growth of the market, but also the need to maintain sustainable and fair employment for the seafarers employed on JNG vessels worldwide.


The clauses of the agreement will be valid for a four-year period, with a review of the wages after two years. The main points of the agreement were:

  • a salary increase of 2.5% from 1 January 2019
  • an increase in JNG members’ rebate from the ITF Welfare Fund to 16%, with an additional 2% available based on an incentive system
  • re-grading of the Warlike Area off the coast of Somalia to a High-Risk Area and the addition of a Warlike Area 12nm off the mainland coast of Yemen
  • changes to various contractual clauses, including a revision to the article covering non-seafarers’ work effective 1st March 2018 and enhanced welfare support for seafarers.

The deal on dockers' rights to carrying out cargo lashing appears to have resolved a longstanding and contentious issue. Torben Seebold, vice-chair of the European Transport Workers' Federation and ITF International Dockers’ Section said: “I would like to thank the seafarers who stood behind us and supported us in making this great achievement happen. It was not easy to achieve but we did it. With immediate effect, we have a mandate to approach companies operating in the Baltic Sea, northern and western Europe and Canadian waters to demand that lashing work be exclusively carried out by dockers, with this requirement to be fully implemented by 1 January 2020. We have been fighting to reclaim lashing for dockworkers as part of the ETF/ITF lashing campaign since May 2015. This is a huge step forward.”


The JNG Spokesperson Capt. Rajesh Tandon, who chaired the talks said: “The past 14 months have been particularly tough. The forum originally met in Tokyo last July, with the full intention to conclude at that time. However, it quickly became apparent that neither party was in a position to move at that stage. A lot of work has gone on in the interim, including concessions to address the Dockers’ concerns, which has allowed the forum to re-negotiate and conclude a mutually acceptable agreement.” 


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