“The SUR FERO received an appeal from a crew member of the Cyprus-flagged, 2005-built Ocean Crown (IMO 9317107)”, Nikolai Sukhanov, the chairman at the Far Eastern Regional Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO), said. The seafarer told he was threatened by signing off as he had complained about the low quality of food and drinking water, and also the low wage rates on the ship. Sending a copy of the letter into the International Transport Working Federation (ITF), he asked the union to take measures and prevent his signing off.
According to Nikolai Sukhanov, the crew of the Ocean Crown appealed originally to the SUR FERO, voicing their complaints about the labour conditions, during the ship's berthing at the Port of Nakhodka. The next day twenty Filipinos refused their claims and signed the document declaring good conditions on board, particularly that the crew was satisfied by the quality of living conditions, catering and their wages. The ship had been berthed at the port from 28 to 31 March. Following the vessel left the habour. Although one of the seafarers sent a letter into the union and explained that the crew signed the document under the captain's pressure and now he was threatened by the signing off cause his appeal to the union.
“If a seafarer complains about working conditions, neither a captain nor an owner has a legal right to sign him off because the Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, prohibits any pursuits on this base”, Nikolai Sukhanov explained. “The seafarer reported that the master and the shipowner checked all email correspondence of each crew member and his union-addressed appeal was intercepted by this way. It's the worst breach of international conventions. In case of his signing off, we recommended the crew member to address to the inspector in the Chinese port, in which the vessel was heading, and told the inspector a reason for the signing off. The ITF advised him to contact with the Cyprus flag state and inform the administration about serious violations of the MLC. If the reason for the seafarer's sign-off is his complaint, the federation and the flag administration will interfere in the situation and take measures against the shipowner. The ITF asked the seafarer to pass all required correspondence, including the master's orders on his signing off, a copy of his complaint and other documents.
The Greek-based OCEANPRECIUS SHIPPING LTD and GLOBAL CARRIERS LTD are the ship's owner and the operator, respectively. Nikolai Sukhanov said Ocean Crown is in China now. The ITF and the SUR FERO watch the situation and keep in touch with the seafarer through the email. Now he is part of the crew. The SUR FERO's chairman says the captain doesn't dare to sign him off, because the MLC breaches can lead to serious consequences for the vessel and its owner.