ITF wage agreements can be applied to Greek-flagged vessels

Wage agreements negotiated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) can now be applied to Greek-flagged, oceangoing vessels, replacing the higher pay scales traditionally negotiated by Greek shipowners and the Panhellenic Seamens Federation (PNO).

Just hours before it rose for summer recess Greece’s parliament passed a legislative amendment that allows shipowners to offer the international union’s labour contracts to their seafarers, up to the rank of second mate or third engineer. PNO agreements remain in force but are no longer exclusive.

The government believes the move will help arrest the long decline of Greece’s flag and encourage its shipping community, the world’s biggest, to offer more jobs to Greeks

The government tabled a draft amendment in Parliament on 29 July aimed to liberalise the labour and remuneration framework for lower-ranked crew-members, a long-standing demand by Greek shipowners, led by the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS).

“We’re boosting the competitiveness of Greece’s dwindling ship registry and we’re attracting young, unemployed Greeks, who are desperate for a job in merchant shipping,” Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis told parliament to defend the measure over the protests of opposition lawmakers.

While Greece’s economic crisis between 2010 and 2018 helped boost maritime employment, which has climbed to 18,000 seafarers in the period it’s a long way short of the 70,000 employed in the industry back in the 1970s, said Plakiotakis.

The minister pointed out the Greek flag has declined in parallel and the share of Greek-owned ships flying the home flag has plunged to 12% from 42% in the mid-1990s.

Greek officers working under PNO contracts earn considerably more than their counterparts under ITF contracts. Indeed, generally Greek seafarers seek employment on Greek flag vessels.

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