The Union is a member of the ITF's Cruise Ship Task Force (CSTF) which is supporting seafarers and monitoring the fast-changing situation brought by the pandemic.

We are pleased to see that the Union, ITF and employers are working together – a successful cruise industry that can quickly bounce back from the worldwide effects of COVID-19, with increased resilience should such a situation arise again, will be to the benefit of seafarers and employers alike,

...Nautilus international organiser Danny McGowan said.

The move comes as those seafarers working onboard cruise ships, who still currently rely on tips, gratuities and service charges to make up a proportion of their wages, are likely to suffer further from the effect of the pandemic on cruise industry.

In this respect, Nautilus has called for special emergency assistance measures to safeguard seafarers' livelihoods by treating them as key workers and providing exemptions from travel and other restrictions being imposed for COVID-19 containment.

Nautilus ITF inspector Tommy Molloy said that some cruise crew have had difficulty with repatriations during layoffs. While in some countries, passengers were allowed off, this is not the case for the crew, he said.

In regard to the above, the CSTF has made the following proposals to keep seafarers employed and costs down while cruise vessels are in lay-up:

  • seafarers must be paid their normal remuneration while their vessel has passengers on board, subject to the Minimum Guaranteed Wages
  • seafarers must be paid the Minimum Guaranteed Wages when the vessel is laid-up or sailing without passengers for the first month

After one month in lay-up or the ship having sailed without passengers, seafarers must be given two choices:

  • seafarers are signed off and paid the agreed-on retrenchment remuneration, i.e. two months' basic wages or one month Guaranteed Wages as a minimum;

or alternatively, if staying onboard and both the company and individual seafarer agrees;

  • reduce the seafarers' working week to 40 hours and pay basic wages and leave pay and allow the 40-hour work week to be used on any five days of the week.

This follows a call by ITF earlier this week to flag states specifically, to take responsibility and account for the health and wellbeing of all crew and passengers onboard their vessels, amid the humanitarian crisis brought by COVID-19 pandemic.