Inside the Issues



*Offshore Rig
*Photo: Steven Bruijneel,

Seafarers who work offshore - most usually on oil and gas mobile offshore units and their support vessels – have to cope with a unique set of working and living conditions.

Why are offshore conditions unique?

Workers employed offshore often spend time in constant motion, are subject to extremes of weather, noisy working conditions, excessive hours of work and demanding shift patterns – with night-working common.

These conditions put offshore workers at increased risk of accidents, poor health, anxiety and stress, and general fatigue. A survey of seafarer fatigue by Cardiff University, published in November 2006, found that workers from offshore oil installations had higher levels of fatigue and poorer health than other seafarers.

Offshore workers are often unorganised and unprotected by national agreements covering their minimum pay and conditions, health and safety standards, and living conditions. ITF has been successfully campaigning to ensure such agreements are now put in place.

How does the ITF protect the rights of offshore workers?

ITF is working to protect seafarers in the offshore industry through negotiating for offshore collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) to secure acceptable working and living conditions. To view an ITF standard offshore collective bargaining agreement, use the link on the right of this page. ITF set up its Offshore Task Force in 1997 to assist with this campaign, and the task force has helped broker the following model CBAs for offshore workers:

  • CBA for all seafarers serving on Norwegian-owned offshore support and diving vessels. As a result of this agreement, reached in 1997, the ITF 2008 minimum wage benchmark for an able seaman working in the North Sea (whatever their nationality) is now $3,291per month, with many other benefits for seafarers
  • The Norwegian agreement was instrumental in helping ITF to negotiate implementation of a CBA in a range of companies. Based on the ITF’s standard offshore CBA of 2004, this sets minimum rates of pay, working hours, public holidays, overtime, rest, sick pay and minimum safe crewing levels. Companies now covered by a CBA include: Acergy (Norway), Saipem (Italy), Havila (UK), Farstad (Norway), Subsea 7 (Norway), OSM (Norway), Great Eastern (India), Greatship (India), Ravenscroft (USA), Technip (France), NMM Ltd (UK), Bibby Offshore (Isle of Man), Gulf Offshore (UK), BJ Offshore (UK), Prosafe (Singapore), Heerema (Netherlands), Harms Offshore (Germany) and Gardline Survey (UK)
  • Worldwide CBA covering crews on offshore pipelay construction barges (including many Indonesian seafarers) employed by Saipem (Italy), Acergy (Norway) and Heerema (Netherlands) – this agreement was reached in October 2007 and will be reviewed annually

Plans are currently in progress with ITF’s Australian, UK and Norwegian affiliates to develop a worldwide CBA to cover the offshore diving industry.

What else is the ITF doing?

ITF's offshore campaign has also supported successful agreements ensuring minimum wages and conditions for offshore workers in: Australia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, East Timor, Brazil, Indonesia, Trinidad & Tobago. Talks are also currently under way to establish a CBA in Singapore.