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SEAFARERS' UNION OF RUSSIA (AFFILIATED WITH ITF)
A NON-UNIONIZED SEAFARER
IS AN UNPROTECTED SEAFARER
Recently the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers’ Union of Russia (SUR FETO) received a letter of gratitude from a woman seafarer who at the beginning of 2022 had turned to the FETO for assistance in getting her salary. The employer owed her USD1544.3 for the period of work on board the vessel Pacific Ray from October to November last year. Despite her numerous appeals to the company the woman seafarer was not get paid. However, recently the company have paid her the money.
According to Nikolay Sukhanov, SUR FETO Chairman, this was largely due to the meeting of Union representatives and the officials of Nakhodka transport prosecutor's office, which took place on December 21, 2021. During that meeting FETO representatives asked prosecutors to take the most stringent measures against the unscrupulous shipowner of the m/v Pacific Ray. “Taking into account that FETO SUR and Nakhodka Transport Prosecutor’s Office continue to receive complaints from crew members of that vessel it has been decided to apply to the judicial authorities to enforce the recovery of unpaid wages for the seafarers worked on the ship,” Nikolay Sukhanov said.
The Prosecutor's Office sent a statement of claim to the Frunzensky District Court of Vladivostok to recover debts from the shipowner. “Recently it became known that the court made a decision to recover funds and keep the m/v Pacific Ray under arrest at the Vladivostok anchorage until the full payment of back wages,” SUR FETO Chairman said. Apparently, this reasoned the employer a little, and the ship’s cook received her salary.
Note that the Pacific Bay has a long record of non-payment of wages to seafarers. Previously, the ship’ name was "Port May", the ship was registered under the Russian flag and more than once got under radar of the trade union – as the crew members of that vessel often complained about unpaid salary, problems with food supplies. Moreover, the employer put strain on the seafarers, once it even came to physical assault.
The m/v St Wind Another is another vessel which owner is also OOO “VIP-STROY HOLDING”, and this vessel also has problems. “After high-profile scandals, a criminal proceeding against their owner, Ivan Pivnev, was initiated. The ships were detained at the ports of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Nakhodka due to non-payment of wages to crews and poor technical condition of vessel,” - Nikolay Sukhanov noted.
However, after two months of detention the m/v "Port May" unexpectedly left Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, without paying off the debt, for Korsakov, where the vessel changed it’s flag to Dominican. Another crew was urgently recruited there, after which the ship headed to South Korea.
In last August the crew members turned to the Union: in addition to non-payment of wages, there were also technical deficiencies on board, and the engineers and motormen had been working for 15-20 hours a day for several weeks to repair the malfunctions. It seemed that the shipowner have changed also, as crew members of the Pacific Ray reported that the company which employed them was called Northwest Ship Management Ltd. and is based in Canada, and the owner's name was Petr Chapman. However, according to their information, this person is a figurehead. According to the Equasis database, the owner is GOLD OKEAN LOGISTIK LTD, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk-based.
However, no matter how complex the whole story of the ownership of the vessel is, one thing is clear: the approach to the rights of seafarers on board has not changed, and the employer still unwilling to pay the crew their salaries.
It should be noted that another vessel of OOO “VIP-STROY HOLDING” - the m/v St Wind, which is under arrest in Nakhodka, also changed its flag from Russian to Dominican, and changed the name - to Atlantic Ray. The Seafarers’ Union of Russia strongly advises to avoid employment on these ships in the future: the rights of workers on board these ships are violated regularly.