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Sri Lanka port in union campaign against sub-standard ships

COLOMBO, Nov 26, 2014 (EconomyNext) – Ships calling at Colombo and several Indian ports are being targeted for inspection by seafarers and dock workers unions during an ‘action week’, seeking better pay and shipboard conditions for crews.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said several ships with deficiencies were found in Indian ports and negotiations begun with ship owners and operators while reports were awaited from other ports.

The week-long campaign started on November 24, 2014 and staggered ‘Weeks of Action’ are being organized this year by ITF unions in the sub continent ports in November and December, the global organization of transport workers’ unions said in a statement.

It involves seafarers and dock workers unions in ports of Chennai, Tuticorin, Paradip, Kolkata and Haldia along the east coast of India and Colombo in Sri Lanka taking action against `Flags of Convenience’ (FOC) shipping.

"ITF Inspectors and union activists inspected a total of 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," the statement said.

The ship registers involved were Marshall Island, Belize, and Antigua and Barbuda.

In Visakhapatnam out of four ships inspected, three of the FOC ships were found covered by approved labour framework agreements and no issues were raised by the crew.

"The non covered vessel Lilian Z was inspected and the ITF Inspector is in discussion with the owners/operators to have the vessel covered."

In Chennai, the ITF Inspector inspected m.v Marikana 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.

In Kolkata, ITF Inspector boarded Mount Bokor and discovered that the Myanmar crew members were receiving very low wages.





"The 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," the ITF said. An ITF-approved collective agreement is being sought for the crew.

Four vessels were inspected in the port of Colombo and one vessel each in Haldia and Paradip port with detailed reports awaited, the ITF said. 

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