In what could be considered a reward for enduring the pandemic and, in many cases, serving onboard their ships beyond the terms of their contracts, seafarers on over 9,000 ships worldwide will receive a 4.5 percent wage and compensation increase over two years beginning January 1, 2022.
Dr. Conrado Oca, president of the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), announced the good news in an interview last November 25, shortly after the inauguration of the E-Library donated by the seafarers’ union to the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA).
“Katatapos lang ng IBF (International Bargaining Forum) negotiations. The unions were able to negotiate for additional pay,” said the AMOSUP chief executive.
The negotiated increase will apply to all seafarers who work on IBF ships.
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), of which AMOSUP is a member, negotiates with the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), which represents four maritime employers’ groups: the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), the International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ), the Korean Shipowners Association (KSA), and the Taiwan-based company Evergreen.
“May agreement na. Na-sign na at the IBF level. It has been signed by IMMAJ, the group of Japanese employers, and IMEC whose members are European employers,” he said.
“The increase will be implemented on a staggered basis in the next two years,” Oca added. Under the IBF Framework Agreement, seafarers will receive a three percent wage increase starting January 1, 2022, and a further one-and-a-half percent increase starting January 1, 2023, he further stated.
Furthermore, the agreement provides for an increase in employers’ contributions to the IBF Seafarers Support Fund, which provides for the welfare of seafarers aboard vessels covered by IBF agreements. The JNG consists of approximately 9,200 ships.
The ITF issued the following statement following the negotiations:
“The negotiations were particularly challenging due to the profit variations in the industry, as well as the increased operational costs due to the pandemic.”
Both the ITF and the JNG, however,
“Acknowledged the need to recognize the sacrifices that seafarers have made during the pandemic, continuing to keep global trade moving whilst unable to return home following the expiry of their contracts, and receiving no wage increase in 2021.”
The agreement between the ITF and the JNG establishes the terms, conditions, and pay for the world’s international seafarers who work on board vessels that the ITF considers to be flying a flag of convenience.
Meanwhile, Dr. Oca revealed that the pandemic had had a significant impact on the members of AMOSUP, the country’s largest seafarers’ union.
“Malaki ang epekto kasi ang mga tao namin nagkakasakit din ng Covid; anyone can get sick. Everyone is affected hindi lang kami,” he said, adding that there was an actual drop in the number of his members. “For a time, bumaba ang (number ng) members namin last year nung kasagsagan ng pandemya such as in the cruise industry, but now we’re recovering,” the AMOSUP president continued.
Despite this, he declared that the union had been able to retain the majority of its members.
“Bumaba man ang membership naming, never kaming bumaba sa 100,000 members,” he said.
This article is originally published by The Manila Times. Minor edits were made by the author.