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Page context: Home > Topics > Your Rights > ITF Agreements
A Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a labour contract agreed between an employer and one or more trade unions for a group of workers. It sets out all the terms and conditions of employment for those workers. It covers things like pay, hours of work, holidays, rights/privileges and how any problems should be dealt with.
ITF Agreements are only those that are approved by the ITF.
ITF Agreements only apply to ships flying a Flag of Convenience (FOC)*.
ITF Agreements are signed by a maritime union and shipping company company, either the beneficial owner or the operator or the manager of the ship. The union must be affiliated to the ITF.
The signatory union is normally from the country where the beneficial owner shipping companyof the ship is based. Often, the union(s) of the crew’s home nation(s) also takes part in the negotiations. This is to ensure that the agreement takes into account any national laws and customs and so that the crewmembers are able to become members of their national union.
Occasionally the ITF will sign an agreement directly with the shipowner.
If you are covered by an ITF Agreement, but there is not an ITF affiliated union in your home country, the ITF will represent you in matters to the employer.
An ITF Agreement comprises of the following:
- Special Agreement
This is the legally binding document that binds the employer to the relevant ITF approved Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It states which CBA applies, it gives the details of the ship covered and it states the dates the agreement is valid from/to. It states the shipowner obligations and it also states the legal right of ITF representatives to access and inspect the vessel for compliance with the agreement. Click the link to see an example of a Special Agreement.
- Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
This is the document which details all the terms and conditions of the crew employed on the ship. It specifies entitlements such as pay (in the form of a wage scale), working hours, etc. Use the links below, or click on the related documents on the right of this screen, to see the texts of various ITF Collective Bargaining Agreements.
When a ship owner signs an ITF agreement, they undertake to:
- Individual employment contracts
These are the contracts which link individual crew members to the ITF Agreement and relevant CBA. They list the details of the seafarer, the employer, the vessel and they state the terms and conditions of the CBA that apply to that particular crew member. So, for example, if he/she is an AB it will give the basic pay, guaranteed overtime, overtime rate, leave pay and subsistence allowance that apply to an AB. There should be 4 copies of the Seaman’s Employment Contract: one for the seafarer to keep for his/her own records; one for the ship’s file; one for ITF London; and one for the company’s file. Click on the link to see an example of a individual employment contract.
ITF Agreements fall into three main categories:
- Apply the CBA’s relevant employment conditions laid out in the CBA;
- Incorporate those employment conditions into individual employment contracts and into the ship’s articles;
- Ensure there is appropriate insurance to cover the company against all liabilities in the relevant ITF Agreement;
- Accurately record working hours;
- Provide the ITF with a current crew list;
- Pay union membership fees to the signatory union or the ITF Special Seafarers’ Department; and
- Pay the ITF Welfare Fund contributions.
- Standard Agreement
The ITF Standard Agreement is normally signed as a result of industrial action or if a company is found to have broken a previous agreement. It is the most costly agreement for the ship owner. Click on the link to see the ITF Standard Agreement.
- Total Crew Cost (TCC) Agreement
The ITF TCC Agreement is the most common type of ITF Agreement. Most affiliated unions use the ITF Uniform TCC Agreement. There are several other types of TCC agreement, all ITF approved, which have been adopted by different affiliated unions worldwide. Whilst they may vary slightly (mainly due to the requirements of their national legislation) they are all based on the ITF Uniform TCC and meet with established ITF minimum standards. Click on the link to see an example of the ITF Uniform TCC Agreement.
- International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Agreement
IBF Agreements are only available to ship owners that are members of one of the ship owners’ associations that sit alongside the ITF in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF). IBF Agreements vary in content but all fulfil minimum criteria. Employers negotiate their own IBF Agreement with the local union, normally once a year. Click on the link to see an example of the IBF Framework TCC Agreement.
Other specialist ITF agreements include:
To find out if your ship is covered by an ITF agreement, click on the link.
* Non-FOC or national flag ships may be covered by National Agreements, but these are a matter for the local union in the flag country.
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