Amendments to Rule 2.5 of the MLC are applied in practice

The story of the vessel Bourbon (IMO number 9588407, flag of Liberia), detained by the authorities in the port of Nakhodka, should have ended in August, when the crew was paid a 3-month debt in the amount of 13 million rubles and 20 crew members were repatriated to Ukraine. However, the trade union committee of the Seafarers Union of Vladivostok continues to deal with the claims as the matter is still on the agenda.

In early September, the trade union committee received calls from relatives of new crewmembers, as well as from the Chief Engineer of the ill fated vessel. Seafarers reported non-payment of wages, and the Ch. Eng claimed that the ship was in poor technical condition. As the Bourbon had been in Manila since August 25, this request was sent to the ITF inspector in Cebu, requesting an inspection of the PSC. As a result of identifying technical deficiencies, the ship was detained. The Philippine colleagues provided the trade union committee in Vladivostok with report of the PSC. According to this report, Bourbon was detained due to the MLC violations and to technical deficiencies (the additional engine room steam boiler was out of order). As well repatriation was requested and the payment of outstanding wage for two months.

The shipowner company did not respond to requests from PSC inspectors, did not respond to requests from the ship, did not indicate its intention to eliminate all the deficiencies identified in result of the inspection, in particular, to pay the salary arrears and pay all the costs of repatriation to Russia for 14 sailors. There are all the signs of an abandoned ship, - says the Chairman of the trade union committee Petr Osichanskiy. For such cases the 2014 amendments to rules 2.5 and 4.2 of the ILO Maritime labour Convention were adopted. They entered into force on January 18, 2017. The essence of these amendments is that they establish a system of financial guarantees provided to seafarers in the form of necessary material assistance, namely: food, accommodation, fuel, fresh water, medicines necessary for survival on board a ship abandoned by the shipowner. This also includes the cost of repatriation to the homeland and the crew's salary in the amount not exceeding four months ' arrears. The system of financial guarantees usually takes the form of insurance due to its accessibility, comprehensibility and wide distribution among shipowners. Thus, the Convention imposes on the shipowner the obligation to insure their liability to seafarers in case of abandonment and all costs under these circumstances fall on the insurance company.

Actually in case with Bourbon financial guarantees are provided to the crew by the P&I Swedish Club. The P&I club is currently negotiating with the Maritime administration of the Flag state, with the Greek shipowner Clover Marine Investment Inc and the charterer Medlink Management in order to prevent the actual abandonment of seafarers. Otherwise, the amendments to regulation 2.5 (Standard A2.5.2) of the MLC 2006 will come into effect, according to which the insurance company will have to bear all expenses for the salary, change and repatriation of the crew.

We may soon see the implementation of amendments to rule 2.5 of the 2006 MLC in practice. And this will be the first time in the Far East, - says Petr Osichanskiy.

Recall that after replacing the Ukrainian crew with seafarers from the Far East and Krasnodar region on August 3, Bourbon left Nakhodka bound for the Philippines. The ship went on the voyage only with 14 seafarers on board instead of 21. Nevertheless, the Registry of Liberia issued a permit valid until August 28, for one passage. According to the crewmembers, they learned about the problems on board the vessel immediately after boarding. First, it turned out that the bulk carrier was delayed due to non-payment of wages to the previous crew, and then, that the vessel was in the poor technical condition. Crewmembers said they struggled with incoming water during the voyage to the Philippines. Fortunately, on August 16, Bourbon reached the coast of the country and was anchored in the roadstead of a private port in Manila, where problems began to snowball. The lack of electricity on board, the catastrophic shortage of drinking water and food, the non-payment of wages-all these problems proved to be a reason for crew to demand immediately payment of the wage and signing off.