Shipping’s largest union, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), has formed an alliance with seafarers’ employer representatives the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC).

The three organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the intention of continuing the spirit of cooperation formed between them during the pandemic.

The partners said they are open to more organisations joining the pact in the future.

“Our industry came together to advocate for seafarers during the crew change crisis, and we had important successes on their behalf. Now we want to take that spirit of cooperation forward and apply it to new, shared challenges,” said ITF seafarers’ section head David Heindel.

The ICS, ITF and IMEC have worked together in the past on issues such as piracy and crew vaccination.

But they usually sit at opposite ends of the table in negotiating collective bargaining agreements and minimum wages for seafarers under the International Labour Organization.

The partners want to put their differences aside to lobby governments on improving training, developing career pathways and pushing for better recognition of seafarers.

They also want to win support for the Maritime Just Transition Task Force’s plan to upskill seafarers to meet the demands of decarbonisation.

The project will be presented to next week’s International Maritime Organization Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting on shipping decarbonisation.

“This MOU is about showing seafarers, as much as anyone else, that our industry has not lost sight of what can be achieved on their behalf if we put aside small differences, stand back and advocate together on crew’s behalf. In short: when it matters, shipping speaks as one,” said ICS secretary general Guy Platten.