Labor inspectors of the Far Eastern territorial organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia visited the m/v Oriental Ace (flag of Panama, IMO 9443114), moored at the berth of the Nakhodka sea fishing port under loading of iron ore to China. The vessel is not covered by the ITF collective agreement, but everything can change. It turned out that at the moment the company Toda Kisen Co Ltd and the All-Japan Seamen’s Union are negotiating to sign a fair agreement for the crewmembers.
According to Nikolay Sukhanov, chairman of the FETO SUR, 16 Filipinos work on board. Now their employment conditions are far from even the minimum standards recommended by the International Labor Organization.So, the basic rate of an AB is $618, the salary of a captain is $6200. Meals for each seafarer are organized for $7.5 per day.
The Filipino crew, as it often happens, warmly welcomed the representatives of the SUR on board. The captain invited the inspectors to his office and provided all the necessary documents, including the signed part II of the Declaration on Compliance, which is required by the Maritime Labor Convention and insurance certificates. The crewmembers themselves said that they got a job on the ship through the state Philippine crewing agency in Manila, which, at the request of the Japanese shipowner, is hiring workers for their fleet.
«Using the convenient flag of Panama, a Japanese company can use cheap labor and avoid taxes in its country»,- says N. Sukhanov.
For their part, representatives of the FETO SUR said that the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of Philippines (AMOSUP), as well as the Seafarers Union of Russia, are ITF member organizations. The ITF has been actively working for more than 50 years to improve the working conditions of seafarers on ships under convenient flags. The federation is confident that there should be a genuine connection between the beneficial owner of the ship and the flag state. But in cases with cheap registers, such connection is absent. The main reasons for using convenient flags are low registration fees, small taxes or their absence, and most importantly-the opportunity to hire cheap labor in order to reduce the costs of the salary fund, training, and security at the expense of the crew.
«We explained that the task of the maritime trade union is to sign an ITF collective agreement with the shipping company, which guarantees a good income for seafarers, for example, the wage for AB is $1,750. The insurance amount in case of death will be at least $100 thousand. By the way, the crewmembers could not define the amount for which they are insured», - added Nikolay Sukhanov.
Only the solidarity of seafarers of all nationalities working on ships under flags of convenience can bear fruit in the struggle for their rights. Therefore, the crew of the Oriental Ace at the stern of the ship took part in an action to combat flags of convenience and asked representatives of the FETO SUR to send a notice of warning to the shipowner about the signing of the ITF collective agreement. Now it remains to wait for the results of negotiations between Toda Kisen Co Ltd and the All-Japan Seamen’s Union.