A step in the right direction but it's not enough

The government of the Russian Federation has issued Order ?. 1031-R of 16.04.2020 which removes restrictive measures on movement across the state borders for certain categories of workers, including Russian seafarers who proceed for crew change on board the vessels in foreign ports. At the same time seafarers must have valid identity documents.

This order "corrects" the omission of the previous regulatory act of the Government of the Russian Federation ? 763-R  of27.03.2020  in which the crews of  vessels were not mentioned as a category of employees who are allowed  to move across the borders in line of  the established restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus infection. Therfore seafarers were not able to get  to their jobs and back.

The new government order removing restrictions on the movement of seafarers to vessels operating around the world is certainly a step in the right direction. However this measure is not enough as international air traffic is almost stopped so seafarers are simply not able to get to a distant foreign port. For example, in the context of a coronavirus pandemic 200 crewmembers of the trawlers M-0009 Vasily Lozovsky and M-0006 Zakhar Sorokin  owned by the Murmansk trawl fleet cannot leave the vessels after 7 months of hard work. The same number of seafarers respectively can not get to Las Palmas to replace them, since our country has stopped international passenger traffic from March 27 this year. According to the Chairman of the territorial trade union organization of Murmansk trawl fleet (TPO MTF) Pavel Parshev, the crews of both vessels remain on board  since September 19, 2019, but despite of the all efforts of the employers (JSC  Taurus and JSC Strelets), the crew change can not be organized.

In order to resolve this situation, the owners of the vessels M-0009 Vasily Lozovsky and M-0006 Zakhar Sorokin have already addressed the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin, Russian Federal Fisheries Agency ,Federal Air Transport Agency   and Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service, but so far the issue has not been resolved.

Employers are ready not only to pay for charter transportation of crews but also to organize the placement of the arriving fishermen in a departmental sanatorium in order to comply with isolation mode set duration,  - says Yuriy Sukhorukov, Chairman of Federation of the unions of the transport workers, member of the Russian trilateral commission for regulating social-labour relations. Therefore, Federal Air Transport Agency needs to receive a corresponding instruction from the Russian government. Currently about 100 000 crewmembers around the world are unable to leave the vessels after the completion of the contracts of employment. Respectively, the same number of seafarers can not get on the ship and get a job.