Week of Actions, day 3: Ukrainian seafarers on a Portuguese ship

At last, on the third day of the WoA, the weather became frosty but sunny. On this day, the SUR team planned to visit three vessels in the Commercial port of Nakhodka, at Astafyev cape (this is about 15 km from the SUR Far Eastern Organization office).

1)   The first vessel was the m/v ROYAL FAIRNESS (flag of Panama, IMO 9478793, DWT 55,654 T, a bulk carrier).

Owned by SUN OCEAN MARITIME SA, Tokyo, Japan.
Operated by another Japanese company, the Daiichi Chuo Marine CO., LTD..  
Crew of 22, all from the Philippines.
Upon our request, the Master showed us the Declaration of Compliance to the international labor standards as per the MLC 2006.
There is a proper ITF CBA signed by the Japanese and Philippine unions, and the Individual Contracts of employment.
Meals are for USD7,5 per person per day.
An AB is paid USD1,200 and the Master US7,800.
Crewmembers are insured for USD80,000 against death or serious injury/disease.
The vessel is under loading the cargo of metal for Haiphong, Vietnam.
We distributed ITF magazines and had a discussion on the FOC Campaign and the WoA. Also, we explained them about the Nakhodka Seamens Club, and how they could visit it. Following to our request, the crewmembers participated in an anti-FOC picket.

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2)   The second vessel visited was the m/v ACHILLEUS (flag of Malta, IMO 9228021, DWT 50992 T).

Owner: LAPIZ MARINE, Lisbon, Portugal.
The vessel was loading a cargo of metal for Vancouver, Washington, USA.
The crew of 19, all Ukrainians. They said that they were very glad to see a Russian trade union team and that they were very much worried by current situation in the Ukraine.
The vessel is covered with a proper IBF CBA.
An AB is paid USD1,600, the Master (Mr.Oleg Gusar) gets USD8,700.
The Declaration of Compliance to the international labor standards as per the MLC 2006 is in place.
The meals are for USD10 per person per day, and by the way, at the time of inspection there was a strong but pleasant smell of Ukrainian borscht around as it was almost lunch time.
The crewmembers had no claims for labour conditions or any delayed payments. Yet they kept lamenting that the Soviet merchant fleet dissipated, that the former Black Sea Shipping Co. disappeared, and the Ukrainian seafarers now have to work mostly on foreign vessels. Also, they claimed that there are four seafarers unions in the Ukraine while their activities are not in line with the ITF policy and activities.

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3)   The third vessel visited was the m/v Ocean Jewel  (flag of Panama, IMO  9610640, DWT 37137 T).

Owner: DSM SHIPPING 1 S.A., Panama.
Operator: TEMM MARITIME CO.,LTD, Japan.
The vessel was under loading a cargo of coal for Fukuyama, Japan.
The crew of 21 all from the Philippines.
The CBA is in place, signed between the Japanese and Philippine unions with the Japanese operator.
An AB gets USD1,400 the Master USD7,200.
The Declaration of Compliance to the international labor standards as per the MLC 2006 is in place.
Meals are for USD7,5 per person per day.
We had a discussion of the ITF activities, and also told about partnership between the SUR and the Philippine unions. The vessel was supposed to stay in the port of Nakhodka for some time, so we invited them to our Seamens Club.
Also, the crew participated in an ant-FOC picket.

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Since the local mass media informed about the Week of Actions against FOCs/POCs in the Asian-Pacific region, a number of seafarers who signed off earlier and did not get their wages started turning to the office of the SUR Far Eastern Organization where they are received by a SUR FEO lawyer, Mr.Vassiliy Savelyev. According to Mr.Savelyevs information, among the complainants there were crewmembers from m/v IVAN POLZUNOV (RUS) who claim non-payment of the total amount of over 4,000,000 Russian Rubles; seafarers who used to work for MV-LINE Co. (Vladivostok) also for non-payment of wages.

Their claims were then forwarded to the Transport Prosecutors Office and the Investigation Committee for Transport.

Unfortunately we could not visit the m/v IVAN POLZUNOV as it is currently under arrest. Today we were informed that the vessel will be auctioned and the money will be paid to the correspondent seafarers.

As far as the MV-LINE Co. is concerned, it paid part of the backwages to the seafarers after the claims were submitted to the Prosecutors Office but said that the rest of the money will be paid only if and when the seafarers withdraw their claims. The seafarers called our office again and explained the situation so our lawyer strongly advised them that in no case they should withdraw their claims.

Also, we have checked the Contracts of Employment which seafarers have to sign with the MV-LINE Co. For example, today a Mr.Ciktor Sarafanov, a SUR member, who is an Electric Engineer, explained us how he was employed for work on m/v GORNOZAVODSK (flag of Russia), and signed a Contract of Employment with a Cyprian shipowner. The wages indicated therein were in US Dollars (which is not allowed for Russian flag vessels) but anyway the wages were not paid after the mans signing off. We took a decision to check all MV-LINE vessels from Vladivostok, and to inform Port Masters about serious breaches when these vessels enter Russian ports.

The MV-LINE fleet also includes the m/v SMILE (flag of Cambodia, IMO 8408698), which trades for the ports of Japan. We would like to draw the attention of the Japanese ITF Inspectors and the JSU to this vessel and stress the necessity to inspect it when noticed.