Collective Agreement is Mandatory for Ships under Convenience Flag
Ships flying flags of convenience are the frequent visitors at the Port of Nakhodka. But only few of them have the ITF collective agreement securing social and labour rights of seafarers. Following inspections the SUR Far East Regional Organization (SUR FERO) representatives found out lack of collective agreements on the board of three vessels – Ionnis Theo (Marshall Islands-flagged, IMO9565170), Superior (flag of Liberia, IMO9553220) and Geopark Venus (flag of Panama, IMO9672789). Ionnis Theo and Superior are controlled by Greek companies and an owner of Geopark Venus is Japanese firm. The Seafarers' Union of Russia warned the crews of the risks of so called “flag of convenience” (FOC) and its representatives carried out protest action against using FOCs by shipowners. Seafarer contracts and insurance certificates in accordance to MLC-2006 were shown only on M/V Superior. But the captains of two other ships couldn't give an answer about amount of crew insurance.
“Only one of three vessels has required certificates and today's inspection well demonstrates the state of convenience flags. Besides Superior crew have the highest salaries among three ships. Such as captain is paid $9000 and a seaman salary is $1200. On two other vessels a seaman gets $614 and it is under the ILO basic rate,” says Nikolai Sukhanov, the SUR FERO chairman. “We talked to crews and explained them that FOC registers aren't worried about compliance with minimal social norms and as usually shipowners choosing such registers to cut expenses on seafarers.”
70 years ago the International Transport Workers' Federation has started a campaign against flag of convenience and the reason for that is attitude of “cheap” registers. Flag of Convenience Action Week campaigns conduct in the Far East several time a year. The Week of Actions are due to be taken in 2018. In addition to take actions on board of ships, the SUR inspectors sent the notices to shipowners about the need to conclude collective agreements.
“The most seafarers are Filipino and Indonesian. We told them that the SUR, Marine Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) and the Indonesian Seafarers' Union signed an collaboration agreement and we would surely inform them about the inspection in Nakhodka,” says Nikolai Sukhanov.