IMEC published Circular (20)123, explaining the differences between the ILO minimum basic wage for an AB Seaman and wages. However, the ITF Fair Practices Committee Steering Group (FPC SG), is disappointed that IMEC released the circular without prior consultation with the ITF.
To remind, following negotiations concluded in 2018 in Geneva, the ILO recommendation for the minimum basic wage of an AB will go up to $641 a month as of January 2021.
As explained in the IMEC Circular, the IBF wages currently exceed the minimum rate established by the ILO.
The ILO Basic salary for an AB is calculated on 8 hours work per day on a 6 days week (a 48 hours week) whilst IBF agreements are based on either 5 days or 5.5 days (40 hours week or 44 hours week).
Nevertheless, FPC SG says that with the circular, the IMEC is effectively imposing upon its member companies a new and unilateral interpretation of the ILO Minimum Wage for Able Seafarers without regard to other parties of the established and time-tested process.
The FPC SG views this unilateral action as provoking and harmful to the ITF-IMEC relationship and, in particular, the collective efforts that has been established and proved successful to all parties over the last 17 years
said ITF Seafarers.
The ITF also finds the circular from IMEC especially frustrating because throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the ITF has been responsive to requests for assistance from IMEC and their individual member companies.
The ITF has been working collaboratively with IMEC and the other Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) members to finding joint solutions to the challenges COVID-19 has posed for seafarers and for employers, including concessions and assistance.
In addition, the FPC SG disagrees with the contents of the circular since the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) system moved away from the ITF Total Crew Cost (TCC) concept of a “benchmark” and a differential wage scale to a “model ship” system. The model ship methodology allows for flexibility in local negotiations of the distribution of centrally negotiated wage increases.
It is unlikely that IMEC would have issued the circular if the IBF wage negotiations were held in early 2020 as originally scheduled. However, the ITF agreed to the request from JNG that the IBF wage negotiations be deferred until April 2021, which prompted a situation concerning the basic wage for an able seafarer in some of the IBF agreements. This situation is also the consequence of flexibility to the distribution of increases to which the IBF methodology allows
Taking the above into consideration, the FPC SG strongly objects to the unilateral interpretation from IMEC, which could result in seafarers in lower positions being robbed of any wage increase for years to come.
The FPC SG now called IMEC to honour the system that has been agreed, and that any changes or changes in interpretation to the IBF methodology be raised in accordance with and within the agreed IBF process.