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Glossary of Terms


Affiliate (ITF) Affiliate – a free trade union that is a member of the ITF.
AMSA Australian Maritime Safety Authority
AAPA American Association of Port Authorities – based in New York, USA.
Articles Articles of agreement – also called “ship’s articles”. The document containing all particulars relating to the terms of agreement between the master of the vessel and the crew.
ASA Amended Ships Articles (see CBA) – ITF Clause attached to a ship’s articles giving further legal protection to a seafarer in some legal jurisdictions.
ASEAN Association of South East Asian Nations


Backpay Unpaid wages owed to a crew member.
Beneficial owner Beneficial owner is the term the ITF uses to describe the entity that the ITF considers to be the “real” owner of a ship. It has effective control over the operation of the ship and benefits from any profits generated by the ship.
Bill of rights The name sometimes given to the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention. This convention brings together more than 65 previous ILO maritime labour instruments, setting the minimum standards to ensure satisfactory conditions of employment for the world’s seafarers. Sometimes referred to as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights. Adopted in 2006.
BIMCO Baltic and International Maritime Council – based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Blacklisting The practice used by manning agents to prevent certain seafarers being employed. In some countries there is a legal form of blacklisting, in the form of a legal sanction. However, illegal blacklisting used as an anti-union device is more common. This is where manning agents secretly circulate among them the details of those they consider “troublemakers”. In fact these are merely seafarers who have perhaps shown an interest in the trade union, complained about poor wages or conditions, pushed for a collective bargaining agreement or been involved in other legitimate union activity.


CBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. An agreement or contract between a union(s) and an employer(s), reached through negotiation. Defines the wages, terms and conditions of the employees it applies to.
CCAMLR Commission for the Conservation of Antartic Marine Living Resources
Classification society An organisation that surveys and classifies ships. Examples include Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas. Classification societies set technical rules, confirm that designs and calculations meet these rules, survey ships and structures during the process of construction and commissioning, and periodically survey vessels to ensure that they continue to meet the rules.
CMLC Consolidation Maritime Labour Convention. ILO Convention bringing together more than 65 previous ILO maritime labour instruments, setting the minimum standards to ensure satisfactory conditions of employment for the world’s seafarers. Sometimes referred to as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights. Adopted in 2006.
COA Container Owners Association - represents the interests of container owners. Based in London, UK.
Collective bargaining Negotiations between a union and an employer to determine wages, hours and working conditions. Normally results in a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
COLTO Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators


DNV Det Norske Veritas – classification society. Based in Norway.
Double book-keeping The practice used by some shipowners of maintaining two separate sets of ship accounts, one real and one false. Aimed at tricking ITF Inspectors and others into believing that the correct wages are being paid when they are not.
dwt Dead weight tonnage


EB Executive Board. The ITF’s decision making body, comprising of representatives of the ITF’s affiliated unions.
ECOSOC Economic and Social Council – United Nations Agency. Based in New York, USA.
EFIP European Federation of Inland Ports – based in Brussels, Belgium.
Equasis – free maritime database. Gives various ship information including casualty statistics, Port State Control detentions and ITF agreement coverage.
ESA European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Attempts to improve health and safety practices within the EU. Based in Bilbao, Spain.
ESPO European Sea Ports Organization – based in Brussels, Belgium.
ETF European Transport Workers’ Federation – the European arm of the ITF.


FAO Food and Agriculture Organization – UN agency
FEPORT Federation of European Private Port Operators – based in Brussels, Belgium.
FEU Forty-foot Equivalent Unit. A unit of measure. Denotes a large container, double the size of a standard container.
FOC Flag of Convenience. A term coined by the ITF, used to describe the flag of a ship whose ownership/control lies outside the country of the flag. Certain countries such as Panama and Liberia are declared FOC countries; so all vessels flying their flags are considered FOC.
FPC Fair Practices Committee The decision-making body for the ITF’s FOC Campaign. The FPC consists of representatives of the ITF’s affiliated maritime unions; 50% seafarers and 50% dockers.
Fair Practices Committee Steering Group A decision-making body for the ITF’s FOC Campaign, made up of members of the wider FPC. Meets more regularly than the FPC.
FSA Formal safety assessment
FSI Flag State implementation


GATS General Agreement on Trade and Services


HSE Health and Safety Executive. Attempts to improve health and safety within the UK. Based in London, UK.


IACS International Association of Classification Societies – based in London, UK.
IAPH International Association of Ports and Harbors – based in Tokyo, Japan.
IATTC Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
IBF International Bargaining Forum. Where the ITF and its affiliates negotiate with shipowners to conclude ITF IBF Agreements.
IBTA International Bulk Terminals Association – based in Brighton, UK.
ICCAT International Commission for the Protection of Atlantic Tuna
ICEM International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions
A Global Union Federation that represents the interests of its affiliates worldwide. Based in Geneva, Switzerland.
ICFTU International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
ICGB International Cargo Gear Bureau, Inc – based in New York, USA.
ICS International Chamber of Shipping – based in London, UK.
ICSW International Committee on Seafarers Welfare – based in Watford, UK.
IFPTA International Forest Products Transport Association
IFSMA International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations
IHMA International Harbour Masters Association – based in UK.
ILO International Labour Organization. United Nations agency. Responsible for improving workers’ rights across the globe. Based in Geneva, Switzerland.
IMB International Maritime Bureau
IMEC International Maritime Employers’ Committee. An international employers’ organisation dedicated exclusively to maritime industrial relations. Based in London, UK.
IMMAJ International Mariners Management Association of Japan. Participates in IBF as a member of the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG). Negotiates with the ITF and its affiliates for terms and conditions to be applied for foreign seafarers
IMO International Maritime Organization. United Nations agency concerned with the safety of shipping and cleaner oceans. Based in London, UK.
IMTT International Maritime Training Trust
INTERTANKO International Association of Independent Tanker Owners
IOPC International Oil Pollution Compensation
ISF International Shipping Federation. An international employers’ organisation for ship operators.
ISM International Safety Management
ISPS International Shipping & Ports Security Code. The ISPS Code provides a framework through which ships and port facilities can co-operate to detect and deter acts that pose a threat to maritime security.
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ITF International Transport Workers’ Federation. A Global Union Federation that represents the interests of its affiliates worldwide. Based in London, UK.
IUF International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations. A Global Union Federation that represents the interests of its affiliates worldwide. Based in Geneva, Switzerland.
IUU Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated


JMC ILO Joint Maritime Commission. Bipartite standing body of seafarers and ship owners that provides advice on maritime questions including setting the ILO minimum wage for able seafarers.
JNG Joint Negotiating Group


Lloyds Register of Shipping British classification society
LNG Liquefied natural gas


MAIB Maritime Accident Investigation Bureau
MARPOL / MARPOL 73/78 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978
MCA Maritime and Coastguard Agency. British government agency responsible for maritime safety. Based in Southampton, UK.
MEBA Maritime Engineers’ Beneficial Association
MEPC Marine Environmental Protection Committee – a committee within the IMO
MOU Memorandum of Understanding. An agreement between two or more parties, indicating a mutual commitment or an indented common line of action.
MLC Maritime Labour Convention. ILO Convention bringing together more than 65 previous ILO maritime labour instruments, setting the minimum standards to ensure satisfactory conditions of employment for the world’s seafarers. Sometimes referred to as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights. Adopted in 2006.
MSC Maritime Safety Committee. IMO committee – based in London, UK.


NGO Non-governmental Organisation
NI Nautical Institute. An international professional body for qualified mariners. Based in London, UK.
NRDC Natural Resources Defence Council


OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
O2D Oslo to Delhi. Sometimes known as the “Delhi Policy”. This is the policy that governs the ITF’s FOC Campaign. This policy resulted from a review of the Campaign on its 50th anniversary.


P&I Club Protection and Indemnity Club. A kind of mutual insurance company. Shipping companies join these clubs, to share their claims. P&I club insurance covers shipowners for liabilities, rather than for the fabric of the ship itself. It covers death or injury to crew, passengers or third parties and other liabilities such as collisions, pollution and cargo damage. P&I club insurance is not compulsory, although hull insurance is.
Paris MOU Paris Memorandum of Understanding. Agreement of implementation of harmonised Port State Control inspections, covering mostly Europe as well few other countries
Personal injury Any disease or impairment of a seafarer's physical or mental condition arising out of or in connection with employment of the seafarer.
POPs Persistent Organic Pollutants
PSC Port State Control. Inspection of foreign flag ships in order to eliminate sub-standard shipping. It is usually implemented through regional agreements of unified procedures and information exchange like Paris MOU, Tokyo MOU, etc.


SAR Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue
Seafarer Any person who is employed or engaged in any capacity on board a seagoing ship
Shop steward An elected union official who represents a specific group of union members. They may negotiate with the employer, handle problems such as grievances and carry out other trade union duties.
SOLAS / SOLAS 74 Safety of Life at Sea (Convention, 1974). IMO Convention setting down the international technical regulations for ships involved in international shipping to secure safety at sea.
Special Agreement / SA Special Agreement (see CBA). An ITF agreement used with the CBA to provide additional legal security for seafarers covered by ITF agreement.  Amongst other things, legally permits ITF inspectors to visit vessels and lists the conditions needed for a vessel to be issued with an ITF Blue/Green Certificate.
SSD Special Seafarers’ Department. A department within the ITF responsible for running the ITF’s FOC Campaign.
STCW Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping
SUA Suppression of unlawful acts


TEU Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit. A unit of measure. Denotes a standard size container.
Tokyo MOU Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding. An agreement between the Port State Controls of countries in the Far-East/Australasia to implement unified procedures and share information in order to eliminate sub-standard shipping.
Trade union An organisation of workers, formed to protect the rights and advance the interests of its members concerning wages, benefits and working conditions.
TUAC Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD


UN United Nations – based in New York, USA.
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNCLOS United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNECE Economic Commission for Europe. United Nations Agency – based in Geneva, Switzerland.
UNFSA United Nations Fish Stock Agreement
UNICPOLOS Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea
USCG US Coast Guard. US Military organisation. In this glossary as its duties also include Port State Control.


VLCC Very Large Crude Carrier


Welfare Fund/WF Welfare Fund. Money paid by shipowners to sign ITF agreement is paid into the Welfare Fund. Some of this money supports charities such as the ITF’s Seafarers’ Trust. It also supports the ITF’s work in maritime-related matters.
WHO World Health Organization – based in Geneva, Switzerland.
WMU World Maritime University – based in Malmo, Sweden.