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Work within the IMO

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The IMO is the United Nations agency responsible for developing international regulation for the shipping industry.

This includes measures to deal with safety, the environment, technical co-operation, legal issues and security.

The ITF, as a social partner speaks on behalf of more than one million international maritime workers. Our aim is to ensure that maritime workers’ interests are addressed and protected when any new regulation is being considered. IMO conventions are of importance to seafarers because they have a direct impact on living and working conditions. 

The IMO is made up of representatives of the flag states. The ITF has observer status. This means that we can have an input into discussions but no vote on any decisions that are taken. The ITF designates an accredited representative to the IMO, in addition representatives and experts from ITF affiliates participate in the various committee and sub-committee meetings.

The ITF ongoing four prioritised projects within the IMO:

Human element / fatigue and manning

The human element of maritime work is a long standing issue at the IMO. The ITF delegation at the IMO represents the interests of the world’s seafarers in the development of the regulatory framework that affects all levels of human activity within the maritime industry. 

Undermanned ships and seafarer fatigue is a persistent problem that has been a longstanding concern of the ITF. There is an evident link between seafarer fatigue and reduced manning level. 

In order to enforce the proper implementation of the existing regulations, the integration of operational manning into minimum safe manning shall be pursued.


The IMO Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) requires all seafarers to be certified and trained according to the new standards that were established and amended in 2010. However, some of current regulations are still without proper recognition and unified interpretation that are going to be discussed and amended from 2020 when STCW is open for a revision.

In addition, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), 1995 provides requirements for seafarers in fishing vessels. The revision of STCW-F was commenced in 2017, the ITF delegates have been actively participated.


To ensure the appropriate balance between autonomous systems and human control and responsibility for the management of such systems, the ITF has been formulating strategic and operational actions in line with the development in the industry. The ITF has addressed  deliberations at the IMO to protect seafarers’ rights and well-being by establishing a Ship Automation Working Group.

Industrial personnel

Industrial personnel are maintenance workers for facilities in offshore activities. In order to protect seafarers from unjust replacement, the ITF has been successfully called for a robust definition of industrial personnel. The ITF delegation is actively pushing for a new mandatory instrument at the IMO.

IMO committees with ITF participation: 

The ITF is active in all seven sub-committees:

ITF participation at the IMO and other forums in 2018:

Upcoming participation in 2018



Related documents:
Human element in shipping - Are Seafarers indispensable? (2025kb PDF)

The International Polar Code (2535kb PDF)

The ETF position on automation in shipping (231kb PDF)

Useful links:
The ITF is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
An ETF plea for a human-centred approach to automation in shipping


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