Seafarers have been freezing on board the m/v Unipower

The crew met representatives of the Far Eastern Regional Organization of theSeafarers Union of Russia in warm winter clothes so they are forced to work both indoors and on the deck. Today in Nakhodka where the Unipower(Panama flag, IMO 9167502) had been moored the temperature is below zero.  But therewere no electric heaters on the ship. The vessel under the flag of convenience is not covered by the ITF collective agreement.

The vessel has been under ferrochrome loading bound for Indonesia. According to Nikolai Sukhanov, Chairman of the Far Eastern Regional organization of the SUR, the first thing that caught his eye was that the crewmembers were very warmly dressed. It turned out that the temperature regime does not meet the requirements of Section 3 of the Maritime Labor Convention. The crew members explained that the vessel was not designed to work in areas of low temperatures so the shipowner had to install equipment for heating the accommodations but did not do it.

The crew of the m/v Unipower consistsof 18 seafarers fromChina and Burma. They were manned by Sinounion Shipping Service Limited (Hong Kong) through a crewing agency in Shanghai

According to the captain all insurance certificates as per the MLC are available but the vessel is not covered by collective agreement. As usual crewmembers have no idea about the amount of their own health and life insurance. Seafarers are provided with individual contracts where the base rate of AB stands for $ 600 and the captains for$ 5640. Meals are organized at $ 7.5 per day per person.

 We explained to the crew that the main task of our union is to conclude collective agreements with shipownerswhich allows us to negotiate on decent pay, good health and life insurance guarantees and conduct a dialogue at a civilized level, - added N. Sukhanov.

Indeed it is sometimes difficult to determine which countrys laws apply on the vessel under the certain flag taking in mind the crew consists of citizens of other countries and the shipping company is registered in a third state. Having the ITF collective bargaining agreement on board saves the parties from many problems as the agreement clearly defines both the rights and obligations of the employee and employer. Besidessuch a document meets international employment standards.

Not surprisingly the crew of Unipower expressed a desire to work under collective agreement.

We will send a notice to the shipowner about the need to negotiate a collective agreement, said Nikolai Sukhanov.

- In addition before leaving the port of Nakhodka the company must bring the working conditions of the crew on board in accordance with the requirements of the MLC. First of all the electric heaters must be purchased in order to keep the rooms warm.

Through the ship's agent the management of Sinounion Shipping Service Limited received a warning that in the case of further operation of the vessel in low-temperature areas without heating devices theUnipowerwill be detained by port authorities.