July 2016: Week of Actions, day 3. Preliminary evaluation

On this last day of the Week of Actions in the East-Asian region (05-07 July), the SUR inspectors team visited vessels in the Nakhodka Fishing Port and Nakhodka Commercial Port.

The Chairman of the SUR Far Eastern Organization Nikolay Sukhanov says:

The first vessel visited was m/v LEV YASHIN (flag of Russia, IMO 8517839, DWT 9,340 T, built in 1986

Crew of 18, all Russians.
The vessel arrived from Vladivostok, and will proceed to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky after loading.
Individual Contracts of Employment are in place, and they correspond to Decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation No. 23n of 20 January 2015 On approval of the Model form of a labour contract between a Shipowner and a Seafarer for the latters work as a crewmember of seagoing vessels working under the flag of the Russian Federation.
The Declaration as per the MLC 2006 is in place.
The Masters wages are comprised from subsistence level minimum salary (which is currently about 7,500 Rubles, or USD 120) plus a big number of various bonuses (as per the Russian legislation), plus hard currency daily allowance, which is USD 17 per day in total this is around USD 500;
an AB also gets the subsistence level minimum salary (which is currently about 7,500 Rubles, or USD 120) plus a big number of various bonuses (as per the Russian legislation), plus hard currency daily allowance, which is USD 8 per day in total this is around USD 240.

The SUR keeps insisting that the basic wages of a Russian seafarer working on a Russian flag vessel shall be based on the ILO minimum wage. Yet, the Ministry of Labour declined this suggestion and did not include into the Model form of labour contract. Russian shipowners use this constructing a most complicated system of wages calculation when seafarers can not understand how much they should get. It is virtually impossible to calculate the wages basing on the Contract which means that the remuneration for seafarers work is solely at shipowners discretion. Russian seafarers ask the SUR to reiterate the request to the Russian government to solve this problem, and to provide for compliance with the MLC-2006. Seafarers want to be sure of the amount of their wages before they get on board. Since the full and precise amount of wages (and a transparent way of the wages calculation) is not included into the Contract, seafarers, if signed off without full settlement of their wages, have problems when addressing courts for unpaid remuneration.

The MLC, though, says that The basic pay or wages for a calendar month of service for an able seafarer should be no less than the amount periodically set by the Joint Maritime Commission or another body authorized by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office. (Guideline B2.2.4) currently, this is USD 612

The vessel is covered with a CBA of the Water Transport Workers Union of Russia (WTWUR) suspended from ITF membership, signed by the Chairman of the Pacific Fleet Committee of the WTWUR Mr.V.Dorosh. The crewmembers say that they never met WTWUR representatives and such representatives never came aboard, whereas SUR representatives regularly visit the vessel; therefore, they said that they would like to rather join the SUR.

The SUR team answered the crewmembers questions and handed out SUR nagazines.

The second vessel visited was m/v AMIS WISDOM 1 (flag of Panama, IMO 9426764; DWT 61611 T; built in 2010).

Crew of 21, all Chinese.
The Master is paid USD 6,034 and an AB gets USD 1,805. Meals are for USD 7 per day.
The vessel arrived from Taiwan, and will proceed back to Taiwan after loading a cargo of sheet metall.
The vessel is covered with an ITF CBA signed with NCSU, Taipei, Taiwan.
The Owner is AMIS WISDOM S.A., Taiwan
Wages are paid in time and in full, and there are no claims.
The Declaration as per the MLC 2006 is in place.

We handed out literature in Chinese, and explained about the Nakhodka International Seamens Club, and how crewmembers could visit it. Summing up the preliminary results of this Week of Actions, we can note that all the vessels visited by the SUR team had the Declarations as per the MLC 2006. Also, practically all crews had no claims concerning payment of wages and working conditions.

We would like to stress the importance of our solidarity; our colleagues from Japan, Taiwan, Korea Hong Kong and China immediately helped in negotiations with shipowners in their respective countries for resolving different matters, including signing proper ITF CBAs.

This year we had a dubious pleasure to witness a vivid example of the worst effects of the FOC system on m/v New Hunchun (flag of Jamaica). The crewmembers (from North Korea) did not have Contracts of Employment and they had the lowest wages of all seafarers we met during the WoA; the Master was paid USD 1,500, and an AB only received USD 500. Due to the defects detected on board, we issued a letter to the Harbour Master with a request to detain the vessel in port until all violations are corrected.  Then, the Port Authorities delayed the vessel until all circumstances of the breaches of the MLC-2006 are investigated and amended.

Some of the visited vessels (namely, 5 of them) were not covered with ITF CBAs, so we sent the respective shipowners Notices urging them to sign proper CBAs. All copies of such Notices were sent to ITF Coordinator in Japan, Bro. Fusao Ohori who was negotiating signing CBAs with the shipowners.

The Week of Actions in the Russian Far East had good coverage in mass media, so many seafarers who had earlier signed off without receiving their wages turned to the SUR. During the Week of Actions all such problems were handled in the office of the SUR Far Eastern Organization by our lawyer Mr.V.Savelyev, and in Vladivostok by lawyer S.Vasilyev.

Namely, we received claims from ex-crewmembers of m/v ST WIND, m/v PORT MAY, m/v CRYSTAL WIND, and from the widows of crewmembers of Vella dredger and GARMONIA refrigerating ship.

As a result of the work during the WoA, in 2016 in the ports of Nakhodka and Vostochny, seafarers received over USD 635,000 of unpaid wages. Such result was made possible not only due to the trade unions work but also thanks to coordination and cooperation with the Transport Prosecutors Offices of Nakhodka, Vostochny and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We received a very noticeable support form port authorities and from the Far Eastern Investigating Committee for Transport of the Federal Investigating Department for Transport of the Russian Federation.