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.