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SEAFARERS' UNION OF RUSSIA (AFFILIATED WITH ITF)
A NON-UNIONIZED SEAFARER
IS AN UNPROTECTED SEAFARER
Today Inspectors of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia visited the bulk carrier Seraphim (flag of Liberia, IMO 9598323) moored under loading at the port Vostochny. According to Nikolay Sukhanov, Chairman of the SUR Far Eastern Territorial Organization, the vessel changed its flag from Singaporian to Liberian and replaced the Filipino crew with 19 Turkish seafarers six months ago.
“It would be natural if the new beneficiary owner, Istanbul-based Teta Shipping Marine SA, having recruited a Turkish crew, raised the Turkish flag on the ship, but he chose a convenient one. The fact that the employer is trying to save on the salaries of seafarers became clear when the captain has refused to show us employment contracts of the crew members,” - Nikolay Sukhanov explained.
As it turned out, the captain refused to show the ship's documents relating to the work and life of the crew on board the vessel, because the company had strongly prohibited to provide any such information to representatives of maritime trade unions and the International Transport Workers' Federation. Meanwhile, the captain kindly invited the SUR FETO representatives to have lunch with the crew.
- The lunch of the seafarers was very frugal, although the captain said the daily food allowance was $9 per a crew member, - Sukhanov noted.
The crew members which were off duty and watch asked the SUR representatives a lot of questions – all of them were about working conditions on board a flag of convenience vessel.
The crew was told that the Liberian-flagged vessel was not subject to Turkish laws. In addition, there was not an ITF collective bargaining agreement on board the m/v Seraphim. Also, the crew learned about the origin of the Liberian Register and the reasons of shipowners' addiction to this flag.
- The first edition of the Liberian Maritime Code, the draft of which was brought to Monrovia from the United States, did not contain any provisions regarding the inspection or control of the Liberian authorities over the technical condition of the vessels registered under the country's flag. Also, there were no references to any regulations of crew members working hours, annual paid leave, minimum wages and other working conditions in the Code. These and other exemptions turned out to be so attractive to shipping companies that the practice of registering under the flag of Liberia became especially widespread in subsequent years, - Sukhanov commented.
Besides, he recalled the ITF's a crucial role in fight against FOC's bad faith towards seafarers: at the political level it is working with international organizations to eliminate the FOC and re-establish an industry with a genuine ship-flag connection; at the industrial relations level the ITF has set minimum wages and terms of employment.
The SUR FETO representatives advised the Turkish seafarers that if there is an ITF collective agreement on board the salary for an AB Seaman of FOC ship would be at least $1,836, and the amount of insurance in the event of the death of any crew member would be at least $110,000.
In addition, the crew of the m/v Seraphim were given books on the rights of seafarers under flags of convenience in English, the magazines "Maritime Unions Herald " and SUR Far Eastern Territorial Organization's 2023 calendars. At the request of the seafarers the union sent Teta Shipping Marine SA a notice about the need to conclude an ITF collective agreement with the Turkish Seafarers' Union. The crew sincerely thanked the SUR FETO Inspectors for their visit.