05.10.2020

The best help is the fast one

This is what an Arab proverb says. The seafarers  have learned it from their own experience when the SUR Primary trade union organization of seafarers in Vladivostok provided them a financial aid due to difficult circumstances the seafarers had faced.

For example, the boatswaint who had been injured  on board  a ship owned by the  offshore registered company was needed an assistance. According to Petr Osichansky,  Chairman of the SUR Primary organization in Vladivostok and the Inspector of the International Transport Workers' Federation  in the port of Vladivostok, the boatswain's case has been dragging on for a long time, and now it has once again reached a dead end.

Once again, we had to face all the obstacles of Russian legislation and the inability to protect our citizens in the event of sham registration of the fleet by shell companies, he says. - We had to  pass the case to the Far East Transport Criminal Investigation Department, and in order not to leave the seafarer alone with his troubles the Union has found an opportunity to support him financially.

Note that it is much easier to address such difficulties in relation to ships covered with  collective bargaining agreements. So, when SUR Primary organization in Vladivostok addressed the similar case of anotherv  injured  boatswain, who  worked on board the ship owned by a foreign companybut covered with an ITF-approved agreement, the Union managed to obtain insurance payment  - $250000. According to Petr Osichansky, it was perhaps the first such significant compensation in the Far East.

However, seafarers and their families still have to face the fact that in a difficult situation they cannot rely on the shipowner's support. The mother of a seafarer who had became blind as a result of injury  failed to gain justice from the employer. The trade union has been providing them with annual financial aid for the past 5 years, - the Chairman of the  SUR Primary organization in Vladivostok. - The woman herself, having worked all her life in the Far Eastern Shipping Company, has a pension of RUB20 000, and her son  has a a RUB7000 disability pension. 

At present  difficult time, seafarers and fishermen are supported not only by the national trade union represented by SUR, but also by  ITF. The ITF established a grant to provide financial assistance to crew members affected by the pandemic. Petr Osichansky applied to the ITF Seafarers' Trust asking for support to a fisherman from Ulan-Ude who worked for a Vladivostok fishing company. In June in China, he sustained a thigh injury while on deck work and had a surgery. However, he managed to get home only 2 months later due to  COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The doctors told him that rehabilitation would take at least 4 months, notes Petr Osichansky. - But  the seafarer should support his family: his wife and two minor children. Though his ship is flying a Russian flag, but the shipping company did not pay  him a compensation  for  4 months of his incapacity for work. Utility bills, provide essential school supplies , cost of food -  all these need  money. Fortunately, the ITF Seafarers' Trust promptly allocated a grant of £5,138 (RUB486,608) to that fisherman.


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