SUR FERO: to calculate a seafarers wage working on a Russian-flagged ship is almost impossible

Over 100 Russian-flagged vessels were visited by the  inspectors of the  Far Eastern Regional Organization of  the  Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO) in the  Port of Nakhodka  in last three years. The  officers highlighted  that the crews couldn't  voice an amount of minimum wage they received. It is almost impossible  to calculate it  without assistance, even if  the  individual contracts, which are often meet the Russian legislation, exist: payment system is complex. In addition, the system allows   the  unfair shipowners  to scale down the amount of  bonuses and  to pay a pittance. 

The tanker Kairos (flag of the Russian Federation) has convinced  this once  again. The  vessel is owned by Morskoy Standart Bunker company in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. 

Nikolai Sukhanov, the  chairman of the  SUR FERO, said that according to a seaman's employment agreement, the  amount  of his wage is determined by the  Regulations on Wages developed by the  shipowner. It includes RUB3,480.10 as an official salary per month. Further the  document says that the  employer pays  to a seafarer  a salary including the  bonuses and benefits in accordance  with  the  mentioned Regulations. Also when a ship is  in foreign voyage, a seafarer is paid a foreign currency instead of daily allowance. In fact, it is almost impossible to calculate a minimum wage for a seafarer working on a Russian flagged-vessel. 

Since January 1, 2019 the minimum wage  is noted to be RUB11,280 in Kamchatka Krai, the territory of registration of the  shipowner. The additional rates  for employment  in the special climatic conditions are applied to this minimum wage. Thus, the minimum payments  in Kamchatka are depended on the  regions and  range from RUB27,072 to RUB33,840. Since January 1, 2019 the  minimum wage  is RUB11,280 in Primorsky Krai, specifically in Vladivostok   the  port of registry of M/V Kairos. 

Why isn't the  guaranteed minimum wage being mentioned  in the  seafarer's  contract?  the  SUR FERO chairman questioned. If the  shipowner wrote this sum in the  contract, the  bonuses could be paid on the basis of this sum in line  with the corporate Regulations on Wages. Having such scheme,  the seafarer could easily  calculate a minimum wage.

Moreover, in accordance with the Chapter 4, named Wages, of the  Federal Industrial Rate  Agreement  for  Maritime Transport  for 2018-2020, which was signed between the  unions  and the  Russian Chamber of Shipping: The parties to the  Agreement, recognizing  the advisory nature of  the  Guideline B2.2.4  of  the MLC, draw appropriate significant  attention  to a wage  rate  on  a Russian vessel or monthly wage for an able seafarer, taking into the account  the  current financial and economical  conditions of  an organization, which  should  be no less than the  amount  periodically set by the  Joint  Maritime  Commission or   another  body authorized by the Governing Body of   the  International  Labour Office, given that  this sum should be no less  than the  minimum wage rate introduced by the federal law. 

In the SUR's view, the  minimum wages  for  each region  should lie at the  core of all payments. However,  a transparency in  payment calculation can be  reached through a collective agreement signing. Only in this way the  employers and  unions, representing the  employees, will be  able to come  to an agreement about the  labour  conditions, the rights and obligations  of the  parties in  a civilized manner.