The inspectors from the Far Eastern Regional Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO) visited the 1990-built, Russian-flagged tanker Argo (IMO 8914855). The tanker was being under cargo handling operations at the Nakhodka oil loading port. The seafarers wanted to become the SUR's members following the conversations with its reps.
Argo is owned by the Russian-based NNK Kamchatnefteprodukt JSC, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The crew includes 21 Russian seafarers. All of them found a job through a Kamchatsky-based crewing agency. An AB's basic rate is RUB14,000 ($215) but it is significantly lower the ILO-recommended $614. A total wage, plus overtime and far-eastern bonuses, isn't exceeded RUB70,000 ($1,000) on board. The wage rate depends on area of navigation and ship's performance. The seafarers are under extremely disadvantage condition: they will receive only a base rate if a court settles an unpaid-wage case.
The vessel has all documents required by Russian law, including insurance certificates which are providing the shipowner's financial guarantees to crew members in the event of personal injury or company's bankruptcy. Every crew member is officially hired, the seafarers have individual contracts and they get labour experience. But the tanker hasn't a collective agreement.
The inspectors told Argo crew about the SUR's work, its success and support which seafarers receive from the union.
“We have been talking about our achievements and the Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention and the active involvement of the union in its ratification,” - Nikolai Sukhanov, SUR FERO chairman, said. “Unfortunately, labour conditions on our vessels are far from perfect. For example, life quality and wage levels for seafarers working on foreign ships often are significantly higher than on Russian vessels.”
The crews voiced the opinion: the priority of the union is to achieve that the base rate through the Russian fleet isn't below the rate recommended by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Most of seafarers expressed their wills to be the union's members. The seafarers received the membership applications which they will be able to pass to the SUR FERO representatives during the ship call in Nakhodka, which the tanker regularly visits. Subsequently, the joining procedure will be started.
“Then we can enter into negotiations with the shipowner for signing a collective agreement, which will provide seafarers with good working conditions and decent wages,” Nikolai Sukhanov reported.