The crew of MV Sungari reckons on the conclusion of the SUR collective agreement

Today, Inspectors of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia (FETO SUR) visited MV Sungari (flag of Tanzania, IMO 9512434), which was moored at the Nakhodka sea commercial port under unloading of special-purpose machines from China. The registered owner of the vessel is Ocean Glory Shipping Ltd (Belize) and the operator is a Vladivostok-based Acrex Co. However, according to the Declaration of maritime labor compliance, Part II, the beneficial shipowner is Ocean Glory Shipping Ltd. The crew members have been recruited through the agency Forewater Crewing LLC, and the same company,  by power of attorney on behalf of the shipowner, signed individual contracts with crew members. There crew of MV Sungari consists of 16 seafarers, all of whom are Russiansthe residents of Primorsky Region. The salary of an AB Seaman is USD 1,100 with a basic rate of USD950, a captain earns USD3,400.

 The shipowner insured the seafarers with the VSK company in Vladivostok,  Nikolay Sukhanov, FETO SUR Chairman, noted. The vessel has two insurance certificates in accordance with the requirements of the MLC, however, their validity periods will soon expire   March 18, 2024. The trade union Inspectors warned the captain that he must obtain new documents before departure; otherwise, the lack of certificates could lead to detaining the vessel.

This was not the only thing that provoked SUR representatives' concern. Under the terms of insurance, seafarers are insured for the amount of USD30,000 in the event of a fatal accident, Sukhanov said. The Individual Contracts specify the name of the next of kin entitled to receiving compensation in such a situation, but the amount of this payout is not indicated.  Having studied the conditions of the crew's VSK insurance cover, the FETO SUR representatives found out that the shipowner had insured his own liability in the event of the death of an employee for USD30,000. That is, the insurer pays the shipowner all expenses incurred, and the relatives receive the remaining amount.

The insurance conditions state that in the event of the death of a crew member on board, the company pays the relatives the insurance amount specified in the individual contract or collective agreement. Moreover, the amount of payment is not specified in the employment contract, and there is no collective agreement on board the vessel. It turns out that the shipowner and the insurance company are not responsible for paying compensation for death at work - relatives may be left without compensation, Nikolay Sukhanov concluded . This is why a ship's flag is so important. If a ship operates under the Russian flag, then in the event of a fatal accident, the relatives of the deceased seafarer will receive up to RUB2 million from the Social Insurance Fund of the Russian Federation. The laws of the Russian Federation do not apply to a ship flying a flag of convenience.

  As in the case of the insurance cover for the crew of MV Sungari, it becomes clear that seafarers working on board a flag of convenience vessel are denied basic rights, since the flag of convenience registers do not ensure compliance with at least minimum labor standards,   the FETO SUR Chairman continued.  Thats why national maritime trade unions seek to conclude collective agreements with shipowners. Thus, the salary of an AB Seaman should be at least USD1,830, and the amount of compensation in case of a seafarer's death while on a voyage should be no less than USD110,000.

The Russian crew of MV Sungari were given the fresh magazines "Maritime Unions Herald", books on the rights of seafarers working on board Flag of Convenience vessels, and calendars for 2024. The seafarers thanked the SUR representatives for their support. They also asked to send a notice to the shipowner with a requirement to sign a collective agreement with the Seafarers' Union of Russia, while authorizing the captain of the vessel to sign a document on behalf of the company.