IBF Deal Boosts 6% Pay Raise and Secures Better Conditions for 250,000 Seafarers

  • Post published:4 October 2023

Thanks to a new four-year agreement reached by the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), over 250,000 seafarers serving on more than 10,000 vessels will enjoy wage increases and improved workplace conditions.

The IBF, the forum that negotiates the world’s largest global collective bargaining agreement, saw seafarers’ unions and maritime employers signing the agreed terms for the 2024-2027 IBF Framework Agreement in Berlin, Germany.

The agreement includes a 4% wages and compensations increase from 1 January 2024 and a further 2% increase from 1 January 2025 for seafarers, officers and ratings. The 2026-27 pay deal and cost items will be negotiated in 2025.

The 2024-2027 IBF Framework Agreement. also includes:

  • Reference to ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment to reinforce a joint commitment to provide safe workplaces free of violence, discrimination and harassment for all seafarers.
  • A joint recognition of the importance of safe working practices in cargo lashing in the common fight against malpractice.
  • A new working group 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 around seafarers’ hours of work,crewing levelsfatigue and duration of employment will also fall under the remit of the working group.

Under the agreement, the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), representing ship managers and owners, also committed to remind their members of the importance of respecting national cabotage provisions and committed to working together with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on a strategy to work towards more and more seafarers receiving a reasonable amount of internet access free of charge.

“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 a working group that will look at the future needs of a changing industry with an eye on the needs of seafarers, with a focus on recruiting.”

ITF spokesperson and ITF SeafarersSection Chair David Heindel 

“The pay deal locked into this agreement provides concrete financial recognition for the critical contribution that seafarers make to the global economy and also recognises 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 President and DockersSection Chair Paddy Crumlin 

“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 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.”

– ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton

”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. Post Covid joint initiatives by JNG and ITF to face together the new and unprecedented challenges for our industry will now take centre stage. I believe this partnership is key to address the issues affecting seafarers’ welfare and training today towards the ultimate aim of decarbonising and achieving net zero shipping by 2050 whilst resolving seafarers’ shortages.”

– Spokesperson for the Joint Negotiating Group of maritime employers (JNG) and Chairman of IMEC, Captain Belal Ahmed 

“The negotiations were particularly tough this time, due to the challenges the pandemic brought about both on seafarers and employers. Nevertheless, we managed to dialogue in good faith, proving the strong partnership we have developed over the past twenty years lives on. I was also pleased that we had a chance to talk about the future of our industry, including ways to attract seafarers going forward, the environmental challenges that await us and the technological solutions that will both help us and at the same time demand that we change with the times.”

– Chairman of JNG and IMMAJ Mr Toshihito Inoue 

SMOU cheered the signing of the 2024-2027 IBF Framework Agreement. Speaking to SeaVoices, SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew described the agreement as fair and timely.

“By boosting the seafarers’ pay and making improvements to the terms and conditions, we are giving due recognition to the plight and contributions of the seafarers of all nationalities. SMOU applauds the good work of the ITF and JNG in reaching the conclusion to stay committed to the welfare and future of seafarers.”