According to figures revealed on World Maritime Day, inspectors from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have collected $118,529,663 in wages owing to seafarers between 2020 and 2022.
World Maritime Day has reported that more than $36 million was paid back to seafarers in 2022 alone.
ITF inspectors are officials who board vessels to educate seafarers on their rights, detect violations of crew contracts, national laws, or international treaties, and then work with authorities to ensure that rights are implemented.
Inspectors from the federation work out of 111 ports in 56 countries.
In 2022, seafarers reported 2,199 breaches of contract to the ITF, with non-payment of salaries being the most prevalent reason.
David Heindel, ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair and President of the Seafarers International Union, said: “While we are proud that our inspectors have been successful in recovering almost $120 million for seafarers in the last three years, it’s unfortunate that we need to address wage underpayments at all. We would prefer to see all seafarers paid in full, and paid on time in the first place.
“For some seafarers, a shipowner might miss a pay date here or there, but others can go months without receiving their salaries. ITF inspectors, supported by our seafarer and docker union affiliates, are here to help crew stand up for their rights wherever they find themselves in need of support.”
In 2022, ITF inspectors reportedly conducted 8,667 ship inspections across the world, with 1,878 of these in response to the federations’ calls, emails, or messages requesting assistance from seafarers.
An additional 3,771 inspections were carried out as part of the inspectors’ continuous system of routine and responsive inspections to ensure ships registered to Flags of Convenience (FOC) registries comply to the same international requirements as vessels flagged to national flags.
Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair, said: “Pandemic-related restrictions had blocked most of our inspectors from boarding vessels in the way they had done pre-pandemic.
“We are now seeing a strong return to active and regular inspections of Flags of Convenience vessels – and still the same level of exploitation. It’s another stark reminder of the underbelly of our industry, and also that more ITF inspections taking place is good news for seafarers and their rights.”