Seafarers secured a minimum wage increase following talks at the International Labour Organisation last week when the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met with maritime employer representatives from the International Shipping Federation (ISF). It was agreed that from 1 January 2015, the ILO monthly minimum wage will be increased from 585 USD to 592 USD, and from 1 January 2016, this will be increased to 614 USD.

ISF spokesperson Arthur Bowring led the discussions held on 26-27 February 2014 in Geneva. In his opening statement, Bowring reflected that the current monthly minimum wage figure came into effect in December 2013 and noted that the purpose of the meeting was to ensure the maintenance of a safety net for seafarers particularly from developing countries.

Bearing in mind that a junior deckhand working on a superyacht can be earning a significantly larger sum somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 USD monthly, depending on experience and size of yacht, plus additional tips and bonuses, this new standard won’t be having much of an effect on the superyacht world. But this announcement by the ILO continues to emphasise the fact that working in our industry is a far cry from the rest of the maritime world.

Perhaps the announcement, instead, could be used as food for thought for the superyacht industry to reflect on whether today’s crew salaries are realistic. It is true that there are particular qualities and skill sets required to operate a successful yacht, which are not needed in other sectors, but does the jump in salary and employment package accurately represent this? It would be interesting to consider if crew’s well-known high salaries are, in actuality, completely necessary. If making an industry-wide agreement to bring salaries more in line with other industries was a viable option, operation costs could be brought down and it would be another factor towards making superyacht ownership more attractive.

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