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ILO Minimum Wage 2020

The vast majority of ships’ support level ratings are recruited from developing nations, and the shipping industry is probably unique in that, under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), it has a recommended global minimum wage for seafarers.

International Labour Organization, Geneva

By definition, the ILO wage is only a minimum. Most ratings from developing countries that serve on internationally trading ships receive significantly higher wages than those recommended by ILO. The current ILO Minimum Wage is substantially higher than that paid for comparative work ashore in developing countries. Moreover, the total wage enjoyed by Able Seafarers is significantly higher once overtime hours and other mandatory payments, such as leave entitlements, are taken into account.

The ILO minimum is reviewed periodically by the ILO Joint Maritime Commission (JMC), a bipartite ILO body comprising employers’ representatives co-ordinated by ICS and seafarers’ union representatives co-ordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

On 1 January 2020, the current level of the ILO Minimum Wage for the rating grade of Able Seafarer, formally known as Able Seaman (AB), increased to US$ 625 per month. It should be emphasised that this only covers basic wages and excludes substantial overtime payments and other mandatory entitlements.

A further increase to US$ 641 per month will take effect on 1 January 2021, in line with the agreement reached in Geneva, in 2018, which agreed a 4.5% increase to the ILO minimum which applied at that time.

ICS is strongly committed to the principle of the ILO Minimum Wage which is referenced in the ILO Maritime Labour Convention. While it is still only recommendatory, and is not directly relevant to seafarer grades other than Able Seafarers (officers receiving significantly higher wages) the ILO Minimum Wage has a strong moral authority and is often referred to by national courts. It is particularly important for employers in some developing countries and may also be relevant to collective bargaining negotiations, including those which take place in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), as well as those conducted by several ICS national
associations on behalf of their member companies.

The ILO Minimum Wage is next scheduled to be reviewed by the Joint Maritime Commission at a meeting in Geneva in April 2021. This will be held in conjunction with next Special Tripartite Committee (STC) on the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, involving seafarers’ unions and governments, at which ICS will also be co-ordinating the positions of global maritime employers.