Azerbaijani seafarers were repatriated from the port of Rostov for the first time during the pandemic. The Azov-Don territorial organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia (ADTO SUR) provided assistance to the crewmembers from the m/v River Rain (flag of Panama). It is noteworthy that the repatriation was arranged in just one day, which in itself is a rare phenomenon.
According to Leonid Glushak, Chairman of the ADTO SUR, Azerbaijani motorists and a Ukrainian cook applied to the trade union for assistance in obtaining salary arrears and repatriation. The first did not receive money for work for 2.5 months, the cook-for one and a half: "As usual, the first thing we did was contact the shipping company, Cunda Shipping, which is considered problematic as often three months of arrears accumulate here, - continued Leonid Glushak. Negotiations on the discharging of foreign crewmembers in the Russian port continued for a whole day, but in the end we managed to turn the situation around. The shipowner paid the seafarers their debts and purchased tickets for the Azerbaijanis and the Ukrainian, and the port authorities allowed them to sign off. The motorists flew home via Moscow, the cook went home by bus".
Only one thing darkens this story: as a rule, when non-members of the SUR apply to the trade union for assistance, they do not pay fees even after providing effective assistance. The same thing happened in the case of former River Rain crewmembers. Apparently, due to the fact that temporarily entry to the port is limited, and the Chairman was not able to personally visit the crew on board, so the seafarers went home without fulfilling their part of the oral agreement.
Nevertheless, the Union achieved two victories: over an unscrupulous employer who did not pay crewmembers on time, as well as over the shift crisis. According to the Chairman of the ADTO SUR Leonid Glushak, what happened to the Azerbaijani seafarers is a precedent as they were not allowed to sign off until this moment.
Olga Ananina, ITF inspector in Novorossiysk, confirmed that problems constantly arise on Cunda Shipping vessels. According to her, the delay in wages for seafarers in the company can reach up to four months. «As for River Rain, the previous crew also asked for help in the port of Rostov. In result the seafarers received part of the money, but could not be discharged due to restrictions. When they arrived in Turkey, they demanded the rest of their wages, but instead they were attacked and put on shore with their belongings. In fact, the seafarers have already written statements to the flag state»-, said Olga Ananina. In addition, the ITF inspector stressed that the signed off crewmembers also complained of discrimination and intimidation by the management of Cunda Shipping.