Play your part
Nautilus members are encouraged to get involved in the negotiating process – from start to finish – and the Union relies on members’ participation to make the negotiations a success. We have a growing number of collective bargaining and partnership agreements, which enable members to have a direct role in the discussions that affect their working conditions.
The framework for the Union’s negotiations is set by the members of the Nautilus International Council, who annually review the key industrial objectives to be pursued. In setting these objectives, the Council examines broad economic and social factors, shipping industry trends and developments in the global maritime labour market, as well as other elements which may influence the employment package.
Nautilus negotiates with more than 150 companies employing thousands of members. The process of reviewing pay and conditions is usually done annually, but sometimes members agree to longer-term agreements covering a number of years.
The process begins with the Union inviting members’ views on the contents of the forthcoming pay and conditions claim. Members are urged to tell officials what their priorities are – an above inflation pay rise, more leave, more generous pensions, better study leave, or improved bonuses. It also helps if members can provide evidence to support the claim – extra responsibilities, increased workloads or performance improvements, for example.
The members ARE the Union, and therefore it is vital to have members and lay representatives involved in the discussions; the more support and feedback the negotiating team has from members in the workplace, then the stronger the bargaining position will be. If management make a reasonable offer, the details are usually sent out to the affected members (known as the bargaining unit or members' council), who are consulted on whether the proposals should be accepted or rejected. The Union representatives may consult the group a number of times throughout the negotiations, and if the talks do not yield a suitable offer, members may be consulted on their willingness to take some form of industrial action to support the claim.
The Union will also negotiate with employers when redundancies have been declared. Often, the intervention of Nautilus not only reduces the numbers affected or eliminates compulsory redundancies, but can also help to avoid job losses and ensure that companies offer re-training and redeployment opportunities. Nautilus will negotiate with the aim of resisting redundancies, averting compulsory redundancies and, where redundancies are unavoidable, improving the severance package for those who volunteer to leave.
Nautilus International has been closely involved in the development of the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), which now determines the pay and conditions for some 200,000 seafarers working in the global merchant fleet.
The Union works through the International Transport Workers’ Federation to ensure the IBF is an effective body to set decent working conditions on flag of convenience ships. IBF agreements cover almost 10,000 ships, setting pay rates for officers, ratings and cadets. Agreements normally run for two years, and Nautilus has a major role in the process of formulating and negotiating the claim to the employers.
The IBF also deals with global issues including war zone agreements and high-risk areas. These agreements cover elements including bonus pay, insurance and repatriation rights for seafarers on ships in areas affected by conflicts or piracy.
Nautilus International also works within a wide range of other forums to ensure that maritime and inland waterways professionals are adequately rewarded for their work and able to operate in safety. We liaise closely with other relevant unions to discuss regional and global issues affecting the employment package.