SUR DVRO: $600,000 for seafarers and their families

The Far Eastern Regional Organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia summed up the performance for the nine months of 2019. More than 600,000 US dollars were returned to the seafarers and members of their families by the efforts of the organization. Within this period the organization received 8 requests from crews and 14 individual requests from seafarers and members of their families. The reasons for complaints were different but most of the problems concerned working and living conditions on ships and of course the delay of the wage.

When visiting ships in the ports of Nakhodka and Vostochny inspectors not only try to identify existing problems but also tell seafarers, many of whom are not unions members and are not protected by the collective agreement of the ITF, about the activities of the ITF and affiliated organizations. As you know it is aimed at improving the working conditions of workers. At meetings crewmembers often applied for representatives of the SUR DVRO with a request to send the shipowner a notice on the conclusion of a collective agreement that will give them decent social guarantees.

So in the nine months of 2019 inspectors visited 64 vessels of which 7 operate under the flag of Russia and 57 under foreign flags. The main part is under the flag of Panama (29 vessels), 7 - Liberia, 6 - the Marshall Islands and 5 - Malta. In addition there were flags of Togo, Cyprus, Sierra Leone, Hong Kong. Out of 64  vessels only 13 were covered by ITF collective agreements and the SUR collective agreements. In this regard the DVRO representatives sent 40 notices to shipowners warning them of the need to sign the ITF collective agreement. During visits to ships inspectors managed to communicate with 1230 crewmembers of which 243 were Russians. During the meetings crews were given magazines and newspapers detailing the activities of the ITF and the SUR.

As noted by the Chairman of the DVRO, Nikolay Sukhanov, inspectors paid special attention to the correct installation and equipment of the gangway, the availability of working clothes and shoes, their washing and storage, and  the availability of warm clothes in winter season In addition during the cold season other issues arose that were of great importance for the safety of crewmembers so the inspectors were especially careful that there was no ice and snow on the deck as moving along an unpurified surface could lead to serious injury. Such deficiencieswere fixed while the inspectors were on board.

However no less important attention was given to checking documentation, in the first place - insurance certificates on the financial guarantee of the shipowner to the crew in case of bankruptcy of the company, as well as their families in the event of the death of seafarers. Their presence on board is mandatory by Maritime Labor Convention 2006. Actually there were insurance certificates on board of all inspected vessels but the problem is that often seafarers do not know how much the shipowner insured them in case of death.

In addition inspectors noted that in most contracts on ships flying the flag of the Russian Federation the amount of insurance is not indicated while insurance companies claim that they make payments in accordance with the terms of employment contracts.  

Visits to the courts this year once again led us to the conclusion that only the collective agreement of the ITF and the SUR solves almost all of these issues, noted NikolaySukhanov. So, for example, on board of 7 Russian vessels inspected this year there was not a collective bargaining agreement where insurance amounts of about $ 40,000 would have been clearly indicated in the event of the death of a sailor, and the base rate of AB would be at the level recommended by International Labor Organization - 618 US dollars. Sometimes the base rate was completely miserable, in particular, on board the tanker Kairos tanker under Russianflag it was only 3480 rubles. Needless to say that seafarers suffer from the absence of a collective agreement therefore it is so important to work on concluding agreements.