The insurance amount must be specified in the seafarer's employment agreement

Nikolay Sukhanov, Chairman of the Far Eastern Territorial  Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR FETO), and Alexander Voronin, Prosecutor of the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office,  held a task  meeting through  videoconference. It took place under the cooperation agreement on interaction and cooperation to protect the labor rights of crew members  between the  SUR FETO and the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office.

According to Nikolay Sukhanov, the  SUR FETO Chairman, at the meeting they summed up the results of joint work and discussed plans for the future. In particular, the SUR FETO asked the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office to arrange the cheking of obtaining the insurance certificates by Russian shipowners, and also to ascertain whether employers indicate the insurance amount in the event  of accident occurred during a voyage  in the seafarers'  employment agreements.

The SUR FETO has every reason  to raise this issue. So, family members of seafarers'  injured or died during a voyage often address to the trade union complaining they did not receive insurance payments after the accidents' investigation.

Though, in accordance with the Maritime Labor Convention requirement shipowners must have two certificates confirming that their financial security in relation to seafarers is in place. Besides, Russian seafarers working on Russian flagged vessels should be insured by the Social Insurance Fund , Nikolay Sukhanov added. 

It should also be noted that, according to Article 60 of the Merchant Shipping Code, seafarer's life and health insurance is the responsibility of the employer.

- Despite this, the practice tends to prove the contrary, - the SUR FETO Chairman  noted. The last three appeals received by us from the relatives of the dead and injured crew members of   m/v Prostor of the  JSC DMP-RM, m/v Ardatov of the  ACTIVE MARINE FISHERY BASE , m/v Frio Sapphire - of the LLC Dilmas, show that the  insurance certificates available on board vessels in accordance with the MLC and compulsory insurance  at the Social Insurance Fund  of the Russian Federation do not provide guarantees. We managed to obtain insurance payments for relatives only through legal actions.

Not  long ago the  SUR FETO carried out an analysis of insurance documents available on board the ships. Labor Inspectors visited more than 53 ships with Russians as crew members. In the course of inspections SUR FETO made a list of companies that insure the liability of  employers connected with  vessels that have Russian crew members and counted the number  of ships insured by those companies.

The list included Ingosstrakh with 21 vessels, Soglasie - 5 vessels, Rosgosstrakh - 2 vessels, SOGAZ, ABSOLUT, ALFA - one vessel each. Some Russian employers prefer to insure the life and health of seafarers in foreign companies.

-While doing this,research,  we found out it was impossible to get to know the size of insurance payments, -  Sukhanov explained, - But we were assured that in case of an accident the seafarer or the members of his family would receive the sum  specified in the employment contract  or the collective agreement. However, on board the vessels we visited  the latter were completely absent, and the size of insurance payment was not  stipulated in the contracts.

Thus, crew members of  a Russian vessel "Stepan Geyts" of the company "Lesprom-Nakhodka" are insured by the Finnish company Alandia. Their employment contracts do not specify the insurance amount.

- It is absolutely  clear for us that it means neither  seafarers nor their families will receive anything when  an insured event occurs because it is not stipulated in the contracts, and it is hardly possible to get  something from a  foreign based company, - Nikolay Sukhanov noted .

He adds that the insurance of Russian seafarers without specifying the amount of insurance in their employment agreements  is unacceptable. The SUR FETO recommends that when applying for a job, carefully scrutinize  the terms of the employment agreements, especially in terms of insurance.