Seafarers and dock workers unions in designated ports of Chennai, Tuticorin, Paradip, Kolkata and Haldia along the east coast of India and neighboring Colombo in Sri Lanka are, this week, holding a week-long industrial campaign against `Flags of Convenience’ (FOC) shipping.
ITF Inspectors and union activists inspected 16 ships on the first day of action week – checking crew contracts and working and living conditions on board FOC vessels notorious for employing seafarers on exploitative conditions.
In Visakhapatnam out of four ships inspected, three of the FOC ships were found covered by IBF framework agreements and no issues were raised by the crew. The non-covered vessel Lilian Z (MHL) IMO 9207326 was inspected and the ITF Inspector is in discussion with the owners/operators to have the vessel covered.
In Chennai, The ITF Inspector inspected the Marikana (BLZ) IMO 9041772 and found the ship did not have an ITF approved wage agreement covering its crew and officers. The matter has been taken up with the Greek owners of the company and negotiations are on.
In Kolkata, the ITF Inspector boarded Mount Bokor (ATG) IMO 9301550 and discovered the Myanmar crew members were receiving very low wages. The AB was found to be getting $346. The crew wages do not even comply with the ILO recommended minimum wages for seafarers working on board FOC vessels. This was pointed out as a violation of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. Talks have begun with the German owners of the vessel to cover the crew with an ITF approved collective agreement. Another vessel, Klara,(MDA) IMO 9399117, was also inspected and a number of issues were found with regard to clarification of the vessel flag status. Contact has been established with ITF affiliates in Portugal and their advice is being solicited.
Chembulk Jakarta (PAN) IMO 9400370, a vessel which was targeted in Tuticorin but subsequently left the port, is going to be inspected again at its next port Visakhapatnam and action is being coordinated with the Japanese Seafarers Union to have the vessel covered. In addition three other vessels were inspected of which two were covered by Singaporean national agreements.
Also, four vessels were inspected in the port of Colombo and one vessel each in Haldia and Paradip port. Detailed reports are awaited.
Staggered Weeks of Action are being organised this year by ITF Unions in the sub continent ports in November and December.