New Norwegian Cruise Line Agreement ready
The new agreements came in to effect on January 1st, 2015 with a three year duration and are results of many elements. Leading up to negotiation start, the unions sought input from NCL seafarers through several ship visits and meetings, notices were sent out to the ships, suggestions received, and we also had feedback from Trade Union Seminar attendants as well. Opinions of the seafarers are vital to a successful outcome of negotiations.
Although we do seek information from the seafarers when negotiating, we always have to make sure that the requirements under the MLC are followed first, as well as issues set forth by the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) through its Miami Guidelines, the principal ITF Document regarding terms and conditions for ITF Approved Agreements covering Seafarers working on Cruise Ships. Many of the requests from the seafarers were the same or similar as the requirements and benchmarks under the MLC and from ITF.
The new agreements include many improvements and one of the most notable ones may be the inclusion of the medical and dental benefits offered by the Philippine union AMOSUP to hotel and catering seafarers from the Philippines starting in 2017. These benefits secure health care coverage for the seafarers when they are home between contracts, but maybe more importantly, they also offer health care coverage for the seafarer's immediate family when they are away at sea themselves. This benefit has been requested by the seafarers for years and we are very pleased that this will be included from January 1, 2017. Non-Filipino Seafarers will get an increase in their Social Program Compensation equal to the cost of the program.
Similar programs are being introduced by governments as well. India's Ministry of Shipping recently launched their new requirements, asking hiring partners to make sure that deductions from Indian Seafarers (non-officers) are being paid in to the government's welfare fund. The amount is 6000 Rupees or USD 10 on a monthly basis and will be deducted from the Social Program Compensation mentioned above for Indian Seafarers. The Indian Welfare Fund will provide an added safety net for Indian seafarers and their families.
These changes are a move to comply with the Maritime Labour Convention.
The new Agreements also include a eleven percent increase to the loss of life insurance amounts pertaining to children, 10 weeks of paid maternity eave and increased wages. The latter will be done in three stages: July 1, 2015; January 1, 2016 and 2017.
Should you have questions about any of the above, please feel free to contact us!