Trade union inspections of vessels yield results

Today Inspectors of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia (SUR FETO) visited the m/v MAC Dalian (flag of Panama, IMO 9220392) berthed at  Nakhodka Commercial Seaport under Chinese cars loading. Looking ahead, we note that following their visit the employer entered into negotiations with the trade union on signing the collective agreement approved by  the International Transport Workers' Federation.

According to Nikolay Sukhanov, FETO SUR Chairman, the Hong Kong-based company Dmuers Alpha Shipping Ltd is the registered owner and the operator of the vessel. The crew of the m/v/MAC Dalian consists of 19 Vietnamese. The salary of an AB Seaman is USD1,300, the salary of a captain is USD6,400.

There is no ITF collective agreement on board, he added. "Certificates of Insurance required by the Maritime Labor Convention are in place. Seafarers' Contracts of Employment do not specify the amount of insurance in case of injury or death; crew members do not know what they or their relatives will  receive if  an insured incident occurs.  

Sukhanov considers this a vivid example of flag of convenience usage: It turns out that seafarers working on board such vessels are denied basic rights. We have told the crew that flag-of-convenience states  do not enforce minimum social norms, and that accidents are more often on board flag-of-convenience vessels in comparison to  national flags vessels. It is no secret that 80% of maritime accidents are attributed to human factor, which is not at all surprising, given that crew members of FOC  vessels  often receive low wages, work overtime and have little rest. In addition, shipowners may ignore their duties as for many of them the transfer of the fleet to a flag of convenience is a kind of refuge, since some open registers offer very favorable tax treatment.

The SUR FETO representatives explained to the crew of m/v MAC Dalian that if there was an ITF collective agreement on board, the salary of an AB Seaman  would be at least USD1,830, and the insurance payment in case of death during a voyage would be at least USD110,000. Having learned about this, the seafarers asked the inspectors to send a notice to the employer with request to conclude  a collective agreement with the Hong Kong maritime trade union. "To demonstrate their commitment to their demands the Vietnamese seafarers held on board a protest against the FOC system", - Nikolay Sukhanov said. Just an hour after we sent the notice, the shipowner began negotiations with the trade union: they are going to conclude a collective agreement at the next port of call of m/v/MAC Dalian.

Let us add that the FETO SUR representatives  handed over to the crew the magazines "Maritime Unions Herald" and books on the rights of seafarers working under FOC vessels.

Also, Nikolaiy Sukhanov  informed that the detained m/v "Omsky 122" owned by the Amur Shipping Company has left the port of Nakhodka. This became possible after the vessel secured renewed insurance certificates. It should be reminded that the vessel  was detained following the inspection of working and living conditions, carried out on 16th of March by the SUR representatives, which found out that the insurance certificates expire the next day. The port authorities advised the captain to go to the Nakhodka roadstead and wait for the documents to be renewed. The Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor's Office is examining  the Amur Shipping Company on  the legality and validity of seafarers' insurance, required by the paragraph 2 of Art. 60 of the Merchant Shipping Code, which states that the shipowner is obliged to insure the life and health of a seafarer, -  Sukhanov added.

Photo - FETO SUR