The International Tranport Workers' Federation (ITF) released the following press release, dated October 12. The SIU is an ITF affiliate.
First staggered ITF South Asia Week of Action ends with more gains for seafarers
A weeklong (October 8-12) campaign, launched this year by ports and seafarers unions in selected port cities of India against merchant ships flying flags of convenience (FOC) ended Friday with substantial gains accruing to the ship crews.
The first of the two staggered Weeks of Actions, this time covering only selected Indian ports saw 43 ship inspections and the signing of 12 ITF acceptable agreements by Inspectors here and through Unions in countries of beneficial ownership as a result of action taken in Indian ports.
In Kandla, sustained pressure on Liberian-flagged vessel Ras Ghumays-1 ultimately led its UAE owners to agree to sign up 7 of their vessels with the ITF union in the Philippines. On another Belize-flagged FOC vessel Arwad Queen, the Lebanese owners decided to cover their vessel with an agreement. Meanwhile, the dockers union throughout the week worked hard to help the 22 Syrian crew members aboard Oriental Queen-VI. The Syrian owners of the vessel have withheld $ 277,000 and there is no diesel on board, which has plunged it into complete darkness and resulted in the failure of the onboard communications facility.
At the Mumbai port, the second success came when action on Panama-flagged Golden Crest, owned in Japan and chartered by a Korean company with Myanmar and Bangladesh mixed crew on board, was covered by an ITF agreement. Negotiations for another vessel owned by the same company, Golden Dominance, are on track. It was also the first time ITF Inspection teams were successful in inspecting vessels at the JNPT port and the private terminals owned by Maersk (GTI) and Dubai Ports World (NSICT). A total of four vessels were inspected and the TS Jakarta captain was very uncooperative. Only after hectic negotiations was the ITF team was allowed to inspect the vessel.
In Visakhapatnam, the ITF team succeeded in getting the Japanese owner of Panama-flagged Sammy to sign an ITF acceptable wage agreement for its Filipino crew. The Inspection team also found the Bangladeshi-owned, Panama-flagged Fatahur Rahman to be a sub-standard ship and alerted the Port State Control to detain the vessel from moving out of the port.
In Tuticorin, hectic negotiations to sign an ITF acceptable agreement are atill ongoing on the Marshall Island-registered, Greek-owned Sky Globe.
In New Mangalore, where vessel traffic this week was low, the unions offered to join the second week of action in December and continue ITF campaign activities.
Commenting on the hectic activities during the week, Sangam Tripathy, Assistant Regional Secretary ITF Asia/Pacific region said, "The Indian inspectors/contacts and the port and seafarers unions in a display of strong solidarity have once again made it clear that flag of convenience ships visiting our ports cannot escape action - hiding behind walls of secrecy created by dubious ownership structures and hiring of cheap and exploited crews without decent rights."