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Unions Step Up Action In Indian & Sri Lankan Ports

Unions step up action in Indian and Sri Lankan ports

Unions in ports across India and Sri Lanka are sending out a strong message against flag of convenience (FOC) and substandard shipping, as the India/Sri Lanka week of action enters its third day.

Activists from dockers' and seafarers' unions led by ITF inspectors inspected over 45 vessels in the ports of the sub-continent: in the port of Mumbai an ITF agreement was signed on board the St Vincent-flagged Al Mansoor 1, which will provide its seafarers with a decent wage.

Meanwhile, in the port of Kolkata, action on board the Cyprus-flagged Yuri Ostrovskiy, led to a pledge by the owner to Hong Kong-based ITF-affiliated unions that a fleet agreement for all ships owned by the company would be renewed. ITF action also delayed the departure of the Pacific Logger from the port of Kandla, until the owner gave a firm written commitment to renew an ITF agreement that had expired.

The ITF team faced particular challenges in the Sri Lankan port of Colombo as a result of tight security measures to deal with threats of terrorist attacks - on 8 January, a bomb blast north of Colombo was reported to have killed a Sri Lankan minister. Despite this some nine vessels were inspected and when the team was denied access to the Queen Arrow 1, some 40 activists clad in red and white ITF t-shirts organised a demonstration in front of the ship.

Commenting on the week of action, Mahendra Sharma, ITF Deputy Asia Pacific Regional Secretary said: "The FOC campaign in South Asia, particularly in India and Sri Lanka has this year yielded concrete results in terms of securing over a million dollars in back pay claims and compensation and signing new ITF agreements, which guarantee fair wages and working conditions for seafarers."

The week-long action in Indian and Sri Lankan ports is being coordinated by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and is part of an ongoing global campaign against the FOC system. It aims to highlight its impact on crewmembers and their working environment and to protect and promote the rights of seafarers.


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