A Sub-Committee of the Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) of the International Labour Organisation
(ILO) today agreed to extend the validity of the current ILO minimum monthly wage for seafarers of US$465 to 31 December 2004. That figure became applicable on 1 January 2003. It also agreed to increase this minimum wage to US$500 effective 1 January 2005.
The mechanism for setting the minimum wage for able seafarers is provided for by the ILO Seafarers' Wages, Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Recommendation, 1996 (No. 187). The ILO minimum wage takes into consideration a formula which reflects changes in consumer prices and exchange rates against the US dollar in 49 maritime countries and areas.
The application of Recommendation No. 187 is not mandatory unless a government chooses to make it so through legislation. It is nevertheless used by shipowners and trade unions in setting wage scales. The mechanism is the only one in the ILO for setting the basic monthly wage for any industry.
In addition to the minimum wage issue, the Joint Working Group of the JMC provided guidance to Shipowner and Seafarer representatives and national authorities on how this wage should be interpreted: taking into account hours of work, overtime, leave entitlement, and weekly rest day and public holidays.
A substantial percentage of the world's more than 1.5 million seafarers are affected by changes in the recommended ILO minimum wage for able seafarers. This figure includes catering and hotel staff on passenger ships and other categories of persons, including those working on board coastal vessels. Ten nations, including the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Turkey, the Russian Federation, India, the United States, Ukraine, Greece and Japan supply almost 60 per cent of the world's seafarers.
With a gross tonnage over 2 million tons, three countries emerged as major maritime nations in 2002: Spain, Cambodia and the Cayman Islands. Australia and Belize are no longer in the list of 39 major maritime nations, according to Lloyds Register World Fleet Statistics 2002.