The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the current political situation have significantly complicated the work of the Seafarers’ Union of Russia, the organization has faced new challenges and new tasks. For example, difficulties in repatriation of seafarers from conflict area arising from a special operation in Ukraine added to crew change problems.
SUR did a great job to ensure repatriation of nine members of the Russian crew of the tanker Millennial Spirit under the flag of Moldova. The ship came under rocket fire on February 24 in the neutral waters of the Black Sea, 12 miles from the port of Yuzhny. All crew with burns of varying degree were taken to a hospital in Chernomorsk. On March 8, the captain of the ship died from his wound, the rest of the crew stayed in the city - the Seafarers’ Union of Russia kept a constant contact with them.
While the Russians were in Chernomorsk, the SUR appealed to the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the International Labor Organization and the International Maritime Organization with request to coordinate efforts to speed up repatriation of the crew members.
On Thursday, March 24, the seafarers were repatriated to their homeland, the SUR covered the cost of their trip from Moscow to home: to the Crimea and Astrakhan. Also, the seafarers will receive financial aid from the trade union (at the place of registration – from the SUR Sevastopol Primary Organization), and be assisted in restoring their marine documents and credentials.
As Yury Sukhorukov, the Chairman of the SUR, noted, the situation is very difficult, but we must not allow political conflict to shift to crews and the incitement of hostility between seafarers, which in no way contributes to coherence in work. The calls not to allow Russian seafarers to work are also unacceptable.
It should be recalled that shipping companies faced difficulties with paying wages to Russian seafarers due to the economic sanctions imposed after the start of a special operation in Ukraine. A significant part of the country's major banks were cut off the worldwide interbank data transmitting system - SWIFT. It was followed by the suspension of operations of such money transfer giants as Western Union, Paypal, Wise, Remitly, TransferGo and Zepz.
The members of the Council came to the conclusion that in spite of everything, the work should go on as usual and according to the approved plan. Thus, a seminar for technical labor inspectors of the SUR is scheduled for May, and the agenda of the seminar for trade union lawyers is being worked out.
It is necessary to continue work on the implementation of the provisions of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) into Russian legislation, including: establishment of the procedure for medical examination of seafarers and the requirements for a medical certificate, listing of medical organizations or doctors authorized to carry out medical examinations of seafarers, determination of the contents of the vessel’s first-aid kit.
The next meeting of the SUR Council is scheduled for October-November, the place will be determined later.