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FAME members told to implement seafarers wage increase starting Jan 2024

FAME members told to implement seafarers wage increase starting Jan 2024
November 22, 2023

The Filipino Association for Mariners' Employment (FAME) was urged to implement the 6 percent increase in seafarers' wages effective January 2024.

During the FAME Annual General Membership Meeting, one of its directors, Capt. Emmanuel Regio reminded manning companies about the wage increase, a crucial part of the four-year labor agreement between employers' groups and seafarers' unions.

In late September, the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), the body that negotiates the world's largest global collective bargaining agreement (CBA), agreed on the terms for the 2024-2027 IBF Framework Agreement in Berlin, Germany.

In the IBF negotiations, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) spoke on behalf of some 250,000 seafarers from its affiliate unions. The employers are represented by the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), consisting of the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC), the International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ), the Korean Shipowners Association (KSA), and the Taiwanese company Evergreen.

FAME members were reminded that their seafarers covered by the agreement would enjoy the 6 percent increase in wages and compensations.

The increase would be implemented in two stages: a 4 percent increase starting Jan. 1, 2024, and another 2 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

The ITF said the wage increase will benefit at least 250,000 seafarers on board around 10,000 ships worldwide. The 2026-2027 pay increase will be negotiated in 2025.

It is estimated that the 6 percent increase will be enough to offset the impact of inflation on seafarers' pay. The IMF said the global average inflation rate is running at about 7 percent this year, rising to about 9 percent in the developing world. In the Philippines, inflation rate is about 6 percent.

"The pay deal locked into this agreement provides concrete financial recognition for the critical contribution seafarers make to the global economy and also recognizes the sacrifice that seafarers have carried over the past few years and throughout the pandemic," said ITF President Paddy Crumlin.

ITF did not provide the dollar amount for the wage agreement. The computation, however, will be based on the $670 per month ($22 per day) for an able seafarer recommended by the last union/employer joint working group meeting. The current ILO minimum basic wage for able seafarers is only $658 per month.

In addition to the wage increase, the IBF agreement also incorporates a joint commitment to ensure a safe workplace at sea, free of violence, discrimination and harassment. The employers' negotiators also agreed to remind their shipowning members to respect national cabotage laws and to work on expanding free internet access for crew members.

Both sides agreed to set up a new committee to monitor areas of concern for seafarers, including the effects of new technology and green fuels, a just transition to a climate-friendly future, and a range of longstanding issues, like hours of work and rest, fatigue, crewing levels and duration of service on board.

"The biggest challenges 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," said ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton.

JNG spokesman and IMEC chairman Capt. Belal Ahmed agreed: "I believe this JNG and IBF partnership is key to addressing the issues affecting seafarers' welfare and training today towards the ultimate aim of decarbonizing and achieving net zero shipping by 205 while resolving seafarers' shortages," he said.

On the latest IBF agreement, the JNG spokesman 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. And seafarers were rewarded for the sacrifices they made during the Covid pandemic when they stood out as key workers."