Star Aqua crew relies on shipowner's honesty

The Russian crew members from  the  Panamanian-flagged Star Aqua (IMO 9573921) haven't  seen their wages  for two months. Although  the  crew relies  on a shipowner's honesty. According to an arrangement  with the  company, the  seafarers will receive their money  in next port of call in China. The  union warns of  the  risk  of blindfold trusting to the employer  the  ship of whom operating under the  flag of convenience  and  without the  ITF agreement.

Today  the representatives  of  the Far Eastern Regional Organization of  the  Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FERO)  have visited m/v Star Aqua and  met  with the crew. Nikolai Sukhanov, the  leader  of  the SUR FERO, said  that  the  Panamanian-based Aqualine Global S.A. is an owner of the  ship and the operator  and real owner  of the vessel is the same-name company based in Vladivostok  which acts  on the  basis  of warrant. The crew includes 19 Russian seafarers, all of them are from Primorsky krai, except  for the  master who is from Sevastopol. 

The vessel has no  a collective agreement, but  there is no reason to find any fault: the  wages match to the  minimal international standards. The  base  rate  for an able seafarer  is $614, and for a master - $6,000. If we say about other  documents, the  ship has them. There are the  personal contracts and the Insurance   Certificates on board in accordance  with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). 

The  seafarers have been working on ship since March 31, 2019, but they still  haven't received  their  salaries, Nikolai Sukhanov continues. Prior visiting the  Port of Nakhodka, the  money in the  US dollars have  been brought    to the  crew at the  Chinese port, but  the  seafarers denied  to receive  money due  to the  banknotes were old and  ragged. The  seafarers agreed  to receive  the  money  in the  next port of call in China, where the  ship would came for unloading. We offered them to file  a complaint to the  Habour Master in Nakhodka  and  wrote  about two-month wage arrears, but the crew members  rejected to do this relying on the  shipowner's honesty.

Star Aqua  operates on Nakhodka-China-Nakhodka line and the SUR FERO has agreed with the  crew  that during the next port of call in Russia they would visit the  vessel  to  convince that wage arrears are paid. 

The SUR representatives tell the Russian seafarers  about the  flags of convenience. It is unregulated system which  enables  to abuse seafarers' labour of any nationality. It is  a huge  risk to work under the  flag of convenience without  a collective  agreement and it is not worth  to  blindly rely  on the employer.  For information,   in case of two-month wage debts  a seafarer  has a right  to appeal to a Harbour Master  or to an insurance company  claiming  to rectify  the deficiencies. 

At the  end of the  meeting  the union's representatives gave the  seafarers the newspapers,   journals and  books. Also they told about  performance  of  the  SUR and the ITF. They passed the  seafarers  the  membership forms and  offered them to join  the  SUR. 

Returning into the  SUR FERO office, inspectors addressed a notice to Aqualine Global S.A. offering come into negotiations  and sign the  ITF collective agreement. The  union also reminded the  employer  about the  debt  to  the Russian crew.