Seafarers are central to the smooth running of global supply chains and ship owners take their responsibilities to seafarers seriously. Protecting the rights and welfare of seafarers is an ambition shared by the wider shipping industry.

Click on the areas below to find out more about our work.

Living and Working Conditions


The Chamber represented UK shipowners in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).  

Since then, it has contributed to formulating regulations, implementing the MLC in the UK and throughout the Red Ensign Group (REG), and negotiating the social partners’ agreement that brought much of the MLC into EU law.  At the Chamber, we also offer a training course on the Maritime Labour Convention. Keep an eye out for this training in our Events section of the website.

We aim to improve seafarers' living and working conditions through regular dialogue with the trade unions, creating an attractive work environment. This will ensure that the industry remains competitive and appealing to future generations of UK seafarers.

Diversity & Inclusion


We promote diversity and inclusion best practice and advise members accordingly, especially around the retention and recruitment of employees. At our Employment Committee, we facilitate discussions on appropriate and effective policies that welcome under-represented groups and provide adequate support. In recent times these have focused on LGBT+ seafarers.

Bullying & Harassment


The Chamber and the maritime unions have historically undertaken joint projects to fight bullying & harassment on ships. This resulted in the publication of guidance to shipping companies and a training video and manual. 

Subsequently, the European social partners took up the project, under which the guidance was made available in several other languages. In 2016, the guidance was re-issued, with some updates, by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and referenced in an amendment to the International Labour Organisation and  Maritime Labour Convention. 

The guidance aims to help shipping companies implement policies to eliminate bullying and harassment on vessels. It also provides seafarers with guidance on on a range of areas including how to report bullying and harassment, recognising when it taking place and how to get involved if they witness any other seafarers being bullied or harassed. 

 View the ICS and ITF guidance.

Mental Health


It is vital that those working as seafarers or considering a maritime career know their well-being is supported. Mental illness is estimated to cost UK businesses up to £30bn every year.  In some cases, seafarers with mental illness may be deemed unfit for work. In contrast, in other instances, appropriate action by employers may have beneficial effects on the seafarer's well-being and work performance. 

The Chamber firmly believes in positive measures to promote mental well-being among seafarers.  It has worked with unions to produce guidelines for shipping companies on mental health awareness in 2018 and practical guidance for improving mental well-being in 2021. We have also organised webinars on mental health awareness to ensure it is at the forefront of thinking. 



Seafarers must be paid in line with international agreements and, where applicable relevant domestic legislation.  The pay rates of many seafarers are set by international agreements negotiated between shipowners and seafarer representatives under a framework established by the International Labour Organization. The Chamber is actively involved in this process. 

The latest agreement will see the minimum pay level rise each year until 2025 and was welcomed by both shipping companies and unions. Nautilus, a union representing seafarers, described the latest agreement as a "testament to the collective milestones the social partnership between seafarers and shipowners have historically achieved." 



A steady and strong flow of seafarers is essential to ensure that the shipping sector can continue to play a central role in global supply chains. In the UK, around 750 new cadets enter the industry each year.  

New developments, such as decarbonisation, require new skills, so we must ensure seafarers receive the training needed to modernise and update their skill sets.  Apprenticeships also provide invaluable routes into the shipping industry for smaller vessels and non-deep-sea sectors.

Through the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), we ensure the best training to deliver skilled seafarers to the industry.