Captain from Nakhodka tries to return his wage arrears over two years

A master of the Panamanian-flagged Stas  hasn't still recovered  his wage, although the  Frunzensky District Court in Vladivostok had resolved to pay  him  more than $15,000  as a wage debt on October, 12, 2017.  Due  to  a prolonged  conflict, he  has asked   the SUR FERO  for  help  in returning  the  debt today. 

The captain told he sought  a job  in Vladivostok-based Ardis. He was directed  to the  crewing agency Interfos, which allegedly specialized  on seafarers' employment  on ships under  foreign flags. The  agency offered him to sign  an employment  agreement with  the Cyprus-based Cotris Limited. The M/V Stas was chartered by Cotris Limited in accordance with a bareboat agreement. But under  an  employment  service contract  the  crewing agency  hasn't  any responsibilities for the wage payments. 

His captain's duties on M/V Stas, performed  by him from February to July 2017,  hasn't  been paid.  The  shipping company Ardis passed  him only a wage debt certificate and  recommended  to  address a complaint  into Cotris. However the seafarer filed the  claim into the Vladivostok court. According to the  court's decision, the Cyprus company  is obliged to cover the wage arrears.  But instead of money, he has got  the  enforcement  order which he still doesn't  know how to apply. 

Such scheme of fraud exists very long, Nikolai Sukhanov, the chairman at the  Far Eastern Regional Organization of the  Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO), explains. A ship is purchased by a shipping company. After getting  the appropriate  documents,  it passes  the  vessel into a bareboat charter. But  in fact this  company exists on paper only. It isn't clear, who is responsible  for the wage  payment. It is an  intentional trick, because the  activities of a bareboat shipowner isn't covered  by the  Russian legislation and  our seafarers wouldn't  have possibility to return  their  money.

It should be noted that in line with the amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (LMC),  the  shipowners  are obliged to insure  the seafarers' wages. If an employer accumulates  the wage debts, an insurance  company has to cover the  debts, but this sum is limited by four-month period. If we say about the situation with the  master of Stas, the  SUR FERO has asked him to show the copies of  the  Ingosstrakh's insurance certificates, which Stas has.  It is possible that we will be able to resolve the  issue  around the  wage debt subsequently. 

The SUR points out that in view of continued cases of  seafarers' fraud,  the special attention should be paid to a contract and its signing,  and also clarify whether  a crewing agency has  its office in Russia. 

Unfortunately, the seafarers  too often face with violation of their rights. The union membership is the best way to protect himself/herself and, as the result, to secure a social protection and legal support  even in the  most  difficult situations, Nikolai Sukhanov believes.