SUR: seafarer shouldn't be signed off from a ship in case of wage arrears

There is a secret rule  on fleet: if a shipowner doesn't pay wage in full, a seafarer shouldn't  be signed off from a ship. If he breaches it, a seafarer risks  has nothing.

The crew members of  the refrigerated cargo ship ODIN  (flag of Russia, IMO 8320834) fell into the trap. According to Pyotr Osichansky, the chairman of its  trade union committee, together  seafarers came  for  help into the  Vladivostok Primary Trade Union of Seafarers  of the Seafarers' Union of Russia.

The story started last year: an employer hasn't been paying to the  seafarers even so called white salary, although  it wasn't  so high. The  officially registered  rate  of wages for motorman is RUR 11,400 and the total amount  of his salary,  including all rates, is RUR18,696. The wage of the  second officer, fixed in the  labour contract, is RUR12,150 and the  total amount  of his  salary is RUR19,926. The  wage  of the  captain is RUR14,000 and  he is paid just above of RUR22,960. Actually, seafarers are promised to be  paid  the  amount of wages written into the  staff list, but  no one of the ODIN's  crew  doesn't  receive  the  money. It  is a common practice among the  national shipping companies. According to the document, the  motorman's wage for  the  period  of  berthing  at Vladivostok is RUR40,000, at Busan - RUR50,000 and for  the period of  voyage - RUR70,000-80,000. The salary of the second officer for the  period of berthing at the Port of Vladivostok is  RUR45,000; during  the  berthing  at Busan -  RUR60,000; and for  period of  voyage  -  RUR100,000-110,000. The company promises to pay the captain:  RUR80,000 - for  the  period of berthing at Vladivostok; RUR95,000 - for period of  berthing at Busan; and RUR200,000-250,000 -  for period of  voyage. 

As a result, on April 26, 2019  the  Port State Control at Busan detained the  Russian ship due  to violation of the  MLC terms in part of  unpaid wages. The Vladivostok-based shipowner referring to the  financial difficulties asked the  crew to wait for payments and agreed with them the two-stage payments: the  first part   he transferred  immediately,  and another part he promised to pay in May. On May 14, 2019 eight seafarers returned to Vladivostok  after receiving  the letters of guarantees  confirming the   $1,000 payments. Currently, the  trade union committee considers the  ways  to resolve  the problems. The main challenge  is that the  staff list, unlike  the  labour contract, is the  document that can't be received by the Russian court implicitly, therefore  it is  hard to obtain  the  promised wages fixed in the  staff list.  For  information,  the company has been made all necessary payments to the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation.

Pyotr Osichansky, the chairman at the SUR's  Primary Trade Union Organization of Seafarers in  Vladivostok, said that it is not the first time when the m/v ODIN comes into the SUR's focus: the seafarers, who have the wage debts on this vessel,  made complaints against their employer   for  last 10 years. The longstanding experience of working with the crews of the reefer, shows that   people can get a real assistance only  in  courts. The shipowner seems to face  the  same fate again - he will  come  before  the  Russian justice.