The ITF-approved collective bargaining agreement is the main protection during a voyage

When the vessel is not covered with any ITF-approved  collective bargaining agreement, the company can save not only on seafarers  wages, but  on their timely repatriation either. A Russian seafarer from the tanker Claudia Gas (Liberian flag, IMO 8813087) faced such situation.

He sent a video message to the Seafarers Union of Russia explaining his case: he signed a four month contract of employment with a  maximum extension to eight months, but eventually he worked on board for nine months. After four months on board  the seafarer applied to the company asking to sign him off. However,  the employer repeatedly delayed repatriation citing as causes  coronavirus restrictions and difficulties to find a change for him. 

Since the seafarer felt extremely fatigue, and his only wish was to return home, he applied for assistance to  the Seafarers Union of Russia. The SUR, in turn, asked his colleague Mohamed Arachedi, the ITF network  Coordinator for Arab world  and Iran, to address this labor conflict. Thanks to the joint efforts the Russian seafarer was repatriated from the port of Aqaba (Jordan), from where he was taken by taxi to the airport by the ITF representatives. The shipowner paid the fully cost of his flight to Sochi. However, the seafarer has not received his salary for March and partly for April still, - upon signing off he was given a back pay certificate signed by the captain.

The SUR notes that this is a risky act, caused by general fatigue from a nine-month staying on board. The issue of back wages payment is now under control in the ITF: the company promises to pay off the debt in the near future. According to the SUR there should be no problems with the money transfer.

Despite this situation the Union does not  recommend to leave the vessel without final settlement, especially if it operates without an ITF collective agreement. The ITF collective agreement is the main guarantee against such situations.

Photo: Dede Onen/marinetraffic.com