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.