The International Bargaining Forum (IBF), the conference that negotiates the world’s largest global collective bargaining agreement, recently finalized terms for the 2024-2027 IBF Framework Agreement in Berlin, Germany.
Mariners covered by the pact will receive a six percent total wage increase over the next two years; subsequent rates will be negotiated in 2025.
In addition, the agreement includes reference to International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment, reinforcing a joint commitment for providing safe workplaces free of violence, discrimination and harassment for all mariners. Participants also jointly recognized the importance of safe working practices in cargo lashing.
Moreover, a new working group was established that will focus on the future of seafaring and major challenges that the industry faces, including the impact of new technology, the introduction of alternative fuels, and ensuring a just transition as the industry responds to climate change. Concerns about mariners’ hours of work, crewing levels, fatigue and duration of employment will also fall under the sphere of the working group.
Under the agreement, the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG, consisting of international maritime employers) also committed to remind their members of the importance of respecting national cabotage provisions, and committed to working together with the ITF on a strategy to build towards more mariners receiving a reasonable amount of internet access free of charge.
ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair David Heindel (who is also president of the SIU) said, “This has been a particularly complicated set of negotiations coming out of the Covid pandemic, which has taken a great deal of effort and compromise on both sides to get this right for the times. This is a fair deal. We have agreed on a working group that will look at future needs of a changing industry, with an eye on the needs of seafarers, with a focus on recruiting.”
ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair Paddy Crumlin stated, “The pay deal locked into this agreement provides concrete financial recognition for the critical contribution that seafarers make to the global economy and also recognizes the sacrifice that seafarers have carried over the past few years and throughout the pandemic. The relationship between ITF and the JNG remains in good shape despite the challenges that these negotiations faced.”
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton noted, “Over the four years of this agreement, we have a lot of important issues to discuss so that we can continue to enhance the living and working conditions of all seafarers on IBF-covered vessels. The biggest challenge we all face is the just transition and the move to alternative fuels. How the industry recruits and motivates our seafarers and ensures they have the skills for the future – this is firmly on our forward-looking agenda.”
Spokesperson for the JNG and Chairman of the International Maritime Employers Council, Captain Belal Ahmed said, ”Once again the resilient partnership between JNG and ITF produced an outstanding outcome in the latest IBF round which both sides and their constituents will be happy to bring to their respective members. Seafarers were rewarded for the sacrifices they made during the Covid pandemic, when they stood out as key workers.”