06.02.2019

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 couldnt 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 seafarers 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.

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