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Nautilus is campaigning for fair pay for all seafarers. As a global trade union, equal pay is fundamental to the Union's activism and key to a better future. Not only is campaigning to increase pay for all workers the right thing to do, but Nautilus recognises that doing this for the most vulnerable seafarers will have a positive effect for members across the maritime industry
1. Agreement reached on Seafarers' Minimum Wage
2. Successful industrial negotiations for pay increases
Still fighting for:
1. An end to wind farm visa waivers
Fair pay at sea
Seafarers are entitled to a minimum wage that applies globally and is usually negotiated every two years between trade unions and employers. The negotiations are convened by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Nautilus campaigned for an increase of the ILO annual minimum wage by $42 from 1 January 2022, up from the current rate of $641 to $683. This amount is equivalent to a daily increase of $1.40, less than a cup of coffee in most major cities.
In 2021, seafarer unions jointly shut down pay discussions after this proposal was rejected by shipowners represented by the International Chamber of Shipping, which demanded we scrap the established practice of using objective ILO minimum wage calculations before it would approve a rise.
This rejection was a 'slap in the face' considering the all-time high international shipping rates and strong financial performance of shipowners during the pandemic thanks to the work of seafarers.
Nautilus Federation affiliates issued a joint statement supporting the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) in unilaterally imposing a new minimum monthly basic wage rate. After many more months of campaigning,a solution was reached in September 2021.
A different set of regular pay negotiations takes place at the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), which brings together the ITF and international maritime employers that make up the Joint Negotiating Group.
Seafarers working on flag of convenience vessels covered by ITF-IBF collective bargaining agreements will see a wage increase from 1 January 2022 following an agreement on 3 September 2021.
This year Nautilus International's industrial team successfully concluded pay negotiations on behalf of many members, but continued to face challenges in doing so.
'It's been as hard this year as it was in 2020, because of the pandemic and the slow recovery,' Nautilus head of industrial Micky Smyth says. 'A lot of members took pay cuts to save their jobs and it's been hard to get that pay back. A lot of companies are obviously suffering severe financial difficulties, while others may have used the pandemic as an excuse to attack salaries – though that is impossible to prove.'
The offshore oil and gas, ferry and cruise sectors have been hit particularly hard.
A difficult aspect to pay negotiations is the current rate of inflation in the UK – consumer prices rose by 4.2% in the UK this October, the highest rate in a decade. Mr Smyth foresees a tough period for seafarers until these inflationary pressures ease.
'It's a struggle for the operators, but more so for our members. The industrial team goes out and fights for them as best they can, telling the operators that their employees – both at sea and ashore – are struggling. We keep representing our members like we've always done.'
Fair pay for windfarm workers
Nautilus is renewing calls for an end to the UK's controversial visa waivers for offshore windfarm workers, which has allowed the importation of cheap labour. The visa waivers have been rubber stamped six times since 2016.
Now it seems the UK government is trying to codify cheap labour into this booming industry through the highly contentious Nationalities and Borders Bill, currently going through Parliament.
Meanwhile, the government is throwing taxpayer's money at the sector in an attempt to hit CO2 reduction targets.
Nautilus wants taxpayers' money to be invested back into good quality, well-paid jobs for maritime professionals. We will continue to campaign on this issue in 2022 as the offshore wind sector expands.
The industrial team goes out and fights for our members as best they can, telling the operators that their employees are struggling. We represent our members like we've always done Micky Smyth