The Seafarers Union of Russia and Topaz Astrakhan have signed a new collective agreement for 17 multipurpose vessels of the company, involved in cargo transportation in different regions of the world. Agreement is valid until October 2024. Cooperation of the Astrakhan division of the multinational company Topaz Marine Energy and the SUR began in 2017. Then, to participate in the project of the Tengiz Chevroil consortium, Topaz built a fleet of multi-purpose vessels in a record 16 months. On board of these vessels Astrakhan crews began to deliver modules from the hubs of Finnish Hamina and Bulgarian Burgas to the Caspian construction site. This year the project was coming to an end, and the seafarers quite rightly appealed to the trade union with the question: what will happen to them next? Thus the SUR held talks with the company's management, and the employer assured that the company is still interested in retaining qualified personnel. «Our seafarers have received special training, they know the fleet, o of course, we will make every effort to ensure that they have a job after the completion of the project», - the representatives of Topaz Astrakhan emphasized.
Hundreds of jobs
For several months the company was looking for opportunity to involve vessels in transportation in the Baltic and Black Sea. The situation was complicated by high competition among river-sea class vessels and economic sanctions. «The vessels that were withdrawn from the Tengiz project were gradually included in the work in the Baltic and in the North. We kept the situation under control so that people would not lose their jobs in a reliable company», - said Nikolay Popov, chairman of the SUR Southern Territorial Organization. «Of course, the seafarers were not sure that they will continue the work, they called the trade union and asked if they would have a job tomorrow. Stability has always been one of the advantages of working at Topaz. And then the project was completed, and no one knew what would happen next», -noted Denis Bondarenko, chairman of the SUR trade union committee of Topaz Astrakhan.
Another important issue that the union kept under control was the salary increase for crewmembers. The Chairman of the Seafarers Union of Russia, Yuriy Sukhorukov, called on the shipowner to ensure the competitiveness by setting a higher salary level for the crew. «For example, other wage standards have been adopted in the Baltic, and if you plan to work there after the completion of the current project, you need to meet the standards adopted in a particular region, » the head of the trade union said. During the negotiations on the signing of a new collective agreement, this issue was discussed first of all. According to Irina Apanovich, deputy chairman of the SUR trade union committee of Topaz Astrakhan, the company agreed with the arguments of the trade union and raised the salaries of AB to the level that is accepted as standard in the Baltic - by 20% from the previous level. «We managed to save several hundred jobs on modern ships, where safety rules are strictly observed and decent wages are paid. This is the most important thing for the union»,- Nikolay Popov summed up.