The seafarer learned from his own experience the union membership benefits.
A few days ago a Chief Officer of bulk carrier Sea Cruiser applied to Seafarers' Union of Russia for help. The vessel (flag of Palau/1989-built) is owned by a Turkish company and is engaged in shipments between the Black Sea ports. Ahead of the vessel's arrival to Yeysk the seafarer contacted the trade union and asked to assist him to settle the issue concerning a payment of wages.
As it turned out, he was awaiting for replacement at the nearest port of call. The employer promised to pay him wages in cash dollars in Yeysk, and the Chief Officer feared to receive damaged banknotes. He explained: earlier the captain had already given the seafarers painted and dirty banknotes, and the amount of wages owed to the Chief Officer at the time of arrival to Yeysk was more than USD5,000.
Yeisk Local Organization of SUR Southern Territorial Organization stepped in to assist the seafarer to settle the issue. Its Chairman, Nikolay Kenebas, promptly contacted the agent, who confirmed that the seafarer had already received USD4,000, and another USD1,500 would be paid him in new banknotes received at a bank.
"We were ready to involve the port authorities to settle the issue, but we managed to avert the conflict promptly in coordination with the agent. The agent sent us a statement of payment of full wages, later the same information was confirmed by the seafarer himself", - Nikolay Kenebas explained.
Assistance to seafarers facing challenging situations is one of the core areas of trade union activity. “Many seafarers failed to join reliable companies with decent wages ended up working for small shipowners on board old vessels, where in addition to problems with wage payments they counter non-compliance with basic safety regulations,” - Vladimir Larin, captain from Novorossiysk, SUR member stressed. "This is where the trade union comes to the rescue, and the necessity of it becomes immediately obvious to seafarers. And when I hear talks like “trade union is not needed, it does nothing,” I answer: “Guys, it's great that everything is fine with us. But when a seafarer gets into trouble, he turns to the union for help.” I personally work for a stable, reliable company, there are no conflict situations. But I know some seafarers who were less lucky and found job on board small vessels. Those seafarers needed a union a lot.”