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Outrage and memes as seafarers react to ILO minimum wage talks

29 April 2021

The failure of shipowners to approve a cost-of-living pay uplift for the world’s lowest-paid seafarers drew an angry response from the maritime world on social media.

This year, the proposed uplift based upon an International Labour Organization (ILO) mechanism to ensure that wages are tied to inflation, amounted to just under US$1.40 per day. Pay talks broke down on 27 April, with seafarers' unions refusing to negotiate a real-terms pay cut.

After the Fair Pay At Sea campaign reported the news on Twitter, seafarers were quick to respond with vociferous opinions. Some also used popular memes to draw attention to the issue, contrasting the 'warm words' from shipping companies with the failure to offer fair pay.

@captsingh responded to the news by tweeting: 'and this when the freight markets are booming and shipowners making huge profits... calling seafarers #keyworkers is not enough. They deserve a decent global minimum guaranteed wage!'

@peterT29786671 said: 'Clearly shows ship owners are in a race to the bottom. Profit first. Shareholders before seafarers.'

@lahay_peter added: 'This is a really shocking position by @shippingics. It really is staggering to see this blind crass position. Well this is rocket fuel to seafarers labour representatives. Honestly at a loss to comprehend this from irresponsible shipowners.'

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson, who is also Seafarers Group spokesperson at the ILO and vice-chair of the Seafarers' Section of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), is continuing to seek a solution on behalf of seafarers.

For the latest updates on the Fair Pay At Sea campaign, please follow and visit