Labor Inspectors of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers’ Union of Russia (SUR FETO) checked working conditions on board ships “Magnum Fortune” and “Sea Topaz”. Both vessels have arrived at Nakhodka for loading with coal.
The crew of “Magnum Fortune” under the flag of Liberia (IMO 9488970) consists of 20 seafarers: 19 Filipinos and one Ethiopian. The shipowner is the Greece-based company “Lark Shipping SA”, the operator is also Greek company - “Meadway Shipping & Trading INC”.
According to Nikolai Sukhanov, the Chairman of the SUR FETO, there is no ITF collective agreement on board the “Magnum Fortune”.
“Unfortunately, during the visit we did not manage to get to know the salaries of the Master or the AB,” says Nikolai Sukhanov. - As it turned out, that was a secret. We know that the crew were employed through the Manila's crewing agency, where they signed a contract of employment and got individual contracts. Nobody explained them that the ship “Magnum Fortune” is registered under the flag of convenience. In our opinion, the Greek shipowner warned the Master in advance about possible inspections by seafarers ’unions at ports of call and advised not to show documents to inspectors.”
During a meeting with the crew members of the “Magnum Fortune”, the SUR FETO representatives explained them risks of employment on FOC ships, which are nor covered with any collective agreement of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). These risks refers to the level of wages and the payment of disablement compensation. The Inspectors outlined that on board such vessels the provisions of employment contract could be distorted. The reasons for using FOCs are numerous: low register fees and tax rates, the possibility of cheap labor's employment and the absence of limitations on the nationality of crews.
M/V “Sea Topaz” (IMO 9557240) is also flying the flag of convenience - the flag of Panama. The owner and the operator of the vessel is the Seoul-based (South Korea) company “Hanaro Shipping Co Ltd”. The crew consists of 23 members: seven South Koreans and 16 Burmese.
“At the time of our visit, the Officer of Nakhodka Port State Control was on board”, - said Nikolai Sukhanov. “We explained that the trade union is concerned with the working and living conditions of seafarers.”
The Master kindly faced the SUR FETO Inspectors and showed all the documents which were on board. According to the papers, the AB wage was $1,142, the Master wage was $10,765. Insurance certificates, as required by the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 (MLC) were on board. Like the previous ship, the “Sea Topaz” was not covered with any ITF Collective Agreement. The cost of daily ration was $10 per person.
Following the results of these two inspections, the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers’ Union of Russia (SUR FETO) decided to send a Notice inviting to negotiate collective bargaining agreemtn to both shipowners. Such agreement guarantees decent employment to seafarers, for example, wage rate in accordance with international standards, the disablement or death compensation. In addition, the collective agreement stipulates that all disputes between employer and seafarer should be resolved in a civilized manner - in court.