The following press release is being distributed by the SIU-affiliated International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF.)
ST. PETERSBURG, 17 October 2013
This week the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) has commenced a new round of negotiations, marking the tenth year of industrial relations between the Forum's members.
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.
Maritime employers are represented by the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), the International Shipping Employers' Group (ISEG) which incorporates the International Maritime Managers’ Association of Japan (IMMAJ) and the Taiwanese company Evergreen, and the Korean Shipowners' Association.
Together they form the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) which allows maritime employers to present to the ITF a coordinated view of employers from across the world.
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) represents maritime affiliates throughout the world.
The IBF negotiations include both central negotiations and local negotiations which allow for development of core principles which can then be incorporated into specific local arrangements. This unique approach to pay negotiations is the only example of international collective bargaining.
Speaking at the IBF meetings in St. Petersburg, Russia, the JNG Chairman Mr. Tsutomu Iizuka said: “The recent financial climate has put tremendous pressure on ship owners and managers to minimize costs and remain viable employers, and on maritime unions to protect the wages and conditions of employment of their members. Over the last ten years the IBF has demonstrated that frank and robust negotiations between the JNG and ITF result in mutually beneficial agreements. These agreements recognize and reflect the challenges maritime employers face and respect the interests and livelihoods of the seafarers on which the industry depends.”
Mr. David Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers' Section commented: “The IBF continues to bear testament to the unique and successful relationship enjoyed by the ITF and JNG. Both parties understand the benefits of engaging in fully negotiated agreements between employers and unions. That relationship was sustained during a time of downturn in the industry, to which seafarers responded with moderate and pragmatic aspirations in the field of wage increases.
“We look forward to the bargaining process continuing to successfully demonstrate the ability of each party to cooperate, to work constructively, and to achieve results for all those we represent.”
The IBF next meets in Tokyo on 18 – 20 February 2014. Further negotiations are scheduled for 14-16 April 2014 and 3 – 5 June.