FOC vessels should be covered by an ITF collective agreement

Otherwise, working conditions on board will  be regulated by the sovereign shipowner, not  by the Flag State, - Nikolay Sukhanov, the  Chairman   of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia believes. 

Inspectors of the SUR Far Eastern Territorial Organization visited the tanker Portofino (Bahama flag, IMO 9564671) at the port of  Nakhodka and found out that there were not an International Transport Workers Federation collective agreement on board.

To be fair, it should be noted that  working conditions in board the vessel with crew consisted of  22 Russians, three Ukrainians and two Greeks  meet the requirements of the ITF. Each crew member has individual employment  agreement in  hand, signed by the representative of the crewing agency on behalf of the shipowner, the Athens company Alberta Ship management LTD. The documents stipulate wages and insurance amounts in case of injury or death. The salary for AB Seaman is $1,990 and  the basic wage is $824. The salary for the captain is $14,000. The insurance amount in case of death is  $99,000 maximum. The crew is provided with with workwear and safety footwear. Daily meal allowance is not limited to a certain amount. The crew have not any complaints about the quality of the food. Nikolay Sukhanov noted that there are enough fruits and vegetables in the seafarers' menu.

-Despite the fact that working conditions and wages meet the ITF's standards, the m/v Portofino is operated  under a flag of convenience and is not covered by any collective agreement, -  Sukhanov said. The absence of an agreement approved by the ITF will allow the shipowner to avoid responsibility in case of any dispute arise. For example, in case of a fatal incident there is no guarantee that the seafarer's family will receive the insurance amount promised  by the company.

The Chairman of the FETO SUR explains that in without control from the flag state the owners can  set rules and regulations on board their vessels in their sole discretion. It turns out that work and life on board is regulated not by the state, but by the sovereign shipowner, - he said.

At the request of the seafarers the FETO SUR committed itself to control  the signing of a collective agreement for m/v Portofino and  sent a notice to Alberta Ship management LTD with a proposal to conclude an agreement with PNO, the Greek seafarers' union.

Nikolay Sukhanov added that as  the majority of the crew were Russians, they asked many questions about the work of the Seafarers' Union of Russia and the International Transport Workers' Federation. The FETO SUR Inspectors gave comprehensive answers to all their questions.  Besides, the  FETO SUR representatives gave the crew fresh issues of  "Maritime Unions Herald" and books in English and Russian  on the rights of seafarers working on  flag of convenience vessels.