What if there is no collective bargaining agreement?
When there is no the ITF approved collective bargaining agreement on board a ship, an employer can dictate any conditions. A Russian seafarer who was signed off from the vessel “Mumtaz” (Malta flagged) where there were no collective bargaining agreement, learned this necessary truth at first hand.
This crew member was repatriated from Africa to St. Petersburg having wage arrears of $3,500. After arriving home, he couldn’t get his money for a long time, so he sought assistance from the ITF.
Following the results of negotiations with the management, the company agreed to pay off the back wages. However, the Russian seafarer has not received the whole amount, but only $ 2,000. As it turned out, this was due to the fact that the shipping agency company issued a disbursement invoice to the employer for repatriation of $ 1,500, which the shipowner deducted from the seafarer’s wages. He had every right to do this: the contract was drawn up in such a way that it was a crew member to bear the costs related to his signing off from a vessel.
- This is a kind of business in Africa, - the Inspectors of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR) explain. - Shipping agency companies invoice for the amount which significantly exceeds the real costs of their services. It is extremely difficult to verify the authenticity of prices.
This situation would not have happened if the “Mumtaz” had been covered with an ITF collective bargaining agreement. Such agreements stipulate all the conditions clearly and transparently, including the repatriation, and in most cases the costs of repatriation are incurred by shipping company.
Though the chances to achieve a partial return of money spent for repatriation are extremely small, the ITF Inspection is keeping to monitor the situation.