SUR FERO: M/V “Panamax Universe” can fall under protest actions
Today the inspectors of the SUR FERO have visited Panama-flagged Panamax Universe (IMO 9609275) which was under coal loading at the Port of Vostochny.
Nikolai Sukhanov, who is the chairman at the Far Eastern Regional Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO), said the 19-person crew consists of four seafarers from Bangladesh and others are from China. Having familiarize with the ship's documents, it was clear that the M/V Panamax Universe hadn't an ITF collective agreement. Agreement-free situation speaks volumes about the seafarers' wages: AB is paid $785. “On the one hand, this sum is satisfied to the ILO's international minimum standards, but the other hand the AB's rate could be twice higher if the vessel had an ITF collective agreement,” mentioned SUR FERO's leader.
Among other disadvantages, which he has turned the spotlight on – the documents haven't information on insurance sums in the event of disability or loss of life. “I want to repeat if the shipowner had signed an agreement with the union affiliated with the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), nobody would have any insurance problems because all compensations are always written into the document,” Nikolai Sukhanov said.
The working conditions on M/V Panamax Universe was a bright example of using of the flag of convenience, or the flag of Panama in this case. “The Taiwanese company Way-East Shipping Agency Co has a right to save costs on the seafarers' wages,” the SUR FERO chairman pointed out. “Over 50 years, the International Transport Workers' Federation has been fighting for seafarers' rights, proposing to employers to come into negotiations and sign the ITF agreements, hereby to provide seafarers with decent working conditions. Unfortunately, only a few shipowners respond to the Federation's call and going on to exploit seafarers in humiliating conditions.”
In such circumstances the unions send the notices into the companies offering to discuss the terms of a collective agreement and sign it. The SUR FERO has yet sent the notice to Way-East Shipping Agency Co. “The notice also contains the information that in the event of refuse, the M/V Panamax Universe can fall under protest actions in the ports. In some countries the dockers won't start the cargo handling operations when they know that the crew isn't covered by the ITF collective agreement,” Nikolai Sukhanov added.