Image Courtesy: Maersk
Image Courtesy: Maersk

Danish shipping giant Maersk has agreed to ensure that any vessel it charters has an International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) or similar agreement – which puts in place protections for crews on flag of convenience ships – covering it, according to the ITF.

The company announced the decision at a meeting of the ITF Maersk network, made up of seafarers’ and dockers’ unions with members based on vessels or in ports operated directly or indirectly by the Maersk Group, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The company already has collective bargaining agreements covering its directly-owned fleet.

 “This is welcome news,” ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith said. “It shows that Maersk Group is reaching for high standards and behaving in a responsible and praiseworthy manner.”

“This closes a circle that has been kept open by, in some cases, vessel providers who have told Maersk they have agreements on board when we know they haven’t.”

Smith added that millions of the transport workers represented by the ITF’s unions work for Maersk directly or via subsidiary companies and “we are committed to making sure they have decent terms and conditions.”

“As a key industry player we think Maersk wants that too, which is why good faith open dialogue is the only thing that makes sense moving forward,” she pointed out.

Maersk Group’s vessels (owned or chartered) total in around 500 ships.

On several occasions, the ITF voiced its concerns for crews working on FOC ships that lack an ITF agreement as workers are ever more frequently left without pay and even basic provisions such as food and water. One of the worst instances of bad FOC practices is linked to a coronary hearing in Australia into the deaths of two crew members on board the so called “death ship”, the notorious Sage Sagittarius bulk carrier, as the crew members had died under suspicious circumstances.