Employers' association of the German shipping industry:

Verband Deutscher Reeder
Burchardstr. 24
20095 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 350970
Fax: +49 40 35097211



German seafarers' union:

Ver.di
Fachgruppe Schifffahrt
Pauli-Thiede-Ufer 10
10179 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 6956-2621
Fax: +49 30 6956-3820



Compatibility of employment agreements with German law:

Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehrswirtschaft Post-Logistik Telekommunikation (BG Verkehr)
Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Referat ISM/ILO - Bereich Seearbeitsrecht

Fax: +49 40 361 37-204


Tilo Berger
Phone: +49 40 361 37-213


Christian Bubenzer
Phone: +49 40 361 37-600
Fax: +49 40 361 37-735



Webcode for this Content: 16949619

Foreign labour law

German and foreign maritime labour law in employment agreements

On board of German-flagged seagoing ships generally German maritime labour law applies. It is however possible to agree on foreign wages for non-EU seafarers on board of ships registered in the German International Shipping Register (GIS).

Application of foreign law on board of German-flagged ships

Based on the German Flag Act section 21 paragraph. 4, national contract conditions and the applicability of foreign labour and tariff contract law can be agreed upon for non-EU seafarers. The scope of such an agreement on foreign law is however clearly restricted:

  • the minimum standards of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) must be complied with in any case,
  • German fundamental rights must not be violated,
  • Aeras of legislation of special public interest (mandatory rules) must not be impaired. Therefore German law stringently applies, inter alia, in the following areas:
    • Continued payment of wages in case of illness
    • Accommodation and catering
    • Medical and social care
    • Technical occupational safety, accident prevention
    • Maximum working hours and minimum hours of rest
    • Repatriation
    • Legal protection of women and young persons
    • Employment protection legislation for members of the crew members’ representation
    • Order on board.

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Application of foreign collective bargaining agreements: GIS Fleet Agreement

For German shipowners/employers it may be useful to conclude collective bargaining agreements regarding minimum wages with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for German-flagged seagoing ships registered in the GIS. For this, the ITF union and the German Shipowners‘ Association (VDR) have negotiated model fleet tariff agreements (“GIS fleet agreement“ (ISR-Flottenvertrag) and “special agreement to the GIS fleet agreement (ISR-Sondervertrag)“). The net wages resulting from these model fleet agreements are specified in the “GIS Fleet Agreement Wage Scale“. Application of these model agreements for particular ships must be agreed between individual shipowners and the ITF office in Bremen.

The application of ITF agreements on board a ship is indicated by the “ITF blue certificate“. In addition, it is possible to find out on the ITF website via a search mask and the input of the ship name whether the shipowner has closed an ITF contract for the crew. German ships without ITF agreements have repeatedly been the object of worldwide boycott by the ITF and its partner unions in the past, e.g. through longshoremen strikes.

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