The dredging sector is very important, innovative and has seen major growth over the last few years. Belgian dredging companies and their motivated, skilled employees are hard at work all over the world. Due mainly to the international context, the minister of employment decided, a few years ago, that dredging vessel crews working away at sea will now come under the Belgian Joint Committee for the Merchant Navy and not the Joint Committee for Construction.

UBT – Maritime Sectors unites officers, sailors and other seafarers who work in the merchant navy. At international level, the legal position of sailors is governed by the “MLC - Maritime Labour Convention”, which was ratified by Belgium in 2013. If you have any questions concerning your salary, employment contract, compensatory leave or tax, whether or not you are resident in Belgium, do not hesitate to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can rely on a high quality service and a wide range of information.

The UBT protects your interests

Anyone that works at sea also lives at sea. Sailors therefore lead a very special kind of life. For this reason, special regulations have been agreed, in order to protect them against the arbitrary actions of captains and shipowners, as well as unemployment, illness and accidents at work. But special regulations also exist for sailors, in order to protect them against the specific risks that they face, such as piracy, sailing in war zones, etc.

The UBT represents approx. 92% of seafarers employed on board ships flying the Belgian flag. The Belgian merchant navy is subject to sectoral agreements concluded by the Joint Committee for the Merchant Navy. Collective agreements specially tailored to individual companies apply within the dredging sector, which is also the case in the maritime towing sector. Working systems also differ: whereas in the merchant navy, workers spend 3-4 months on board ship, the dredging sector has managed to reduce these periods to two weeks on board and two weeks in dock (in Belgium) and to 6 weeks on board and 6 weeks in dock (outside of Belgium).


Acclimatisation (getting used to life on board)

Students from the Antwerp Maritime Academy prepare for jobs on board seagoing vessels. After gaining their qualifications, they contact a shipowner or owner of a seagoing vessel, in order to offer their services. If they are able to convince the shipowner of their abilities and enthusiasm, they will be able to sign an employment contract with him. But, unlike office employees or shop floor workers, they will live and work on board a ship for several months at a time. So that students have an opportunity to “sample” life at sea and gain the necessary practical experience, they can spend time on board a ship during the holiday periods. This period of training is paid via the merchant navy pool and UBT – Merchant Navy provides a payment service.

“Tax” service

Sailors often spend months away at sea. This can create problems if they have to complete certain administrative formalities, such as their annual tax return. UBT – Merchant Navy will ensure that your tax return is submitted in good time, together with the necessary documents, or ask the relevant tax office for extra time. Do not hesitate to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

Family leave, pensions, unemployment benefit with company supplement, etc.

If you have any questions concerning your pension, unemployment benefit with company supplement (RCC) or family leave, do not hesitate to contact our services.
Our employees will provide you with the best possible advice, inform you of your rights and, if required, submit the necessary applications.