The ITF’s flag of convenience campaign

When globalised trade came up in the middle of the last century, a growing number of ships were flagged out by their owners, leading to merciless social dumping on the seas. Hiring practices and wages paid on so-called flag of convenience ships called the age of slave trade back to mind. Against this backdrop, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in London launched its flag of convenience campaign in 1948, aiming at cutting down international competition among seafarers. In order to achieve this, an international collective agreement for seafarers was designed, with seafarers and dockers from around the world cooperating closely ever since to push this agreement through on as many ships as possible.

The ITF flag of convenience campaign serves as an example as to how employees can protect their working and living conditions within a global labor market. It also proves that solidarity is and remains the union movement’s most important tool – across all national and professional limitations.