Indian & Sri Lankan Week Of Action Successful
Indian and Sri Lankan week of action declared a success
The ITF's week-long action against the flag of convenience (FOC) system in Indian and Sri Lankan ports, which draws to a close today, has seen a total of 96 inspections carried out on board FOC vessels. The inspections aim to secure seafarers a fair wage and decent working conditions. Follow-up action on at least six vessels will continue throughout the night and over the weekend.
In Chennai, the FOC team is staying on board the Panamanian flagged Global Flora, in an attempt to persuade its Japanese owners to sign an ITF agreement with the Japanese Seafarers' Union (JSU). Members of the dockers' union in Chennai are also standing firm in the face of the managers' delaying tactics; they are determined to secure the Filipino seafarers on board a respectable wage. The action will continue over the weekend.
In Mumbai, the ITF inspector on board the Maltese flagged, Norwegian owned and Korean managed Samho Jewelry, discovered that the Croatian, Russian, Polish and Burmese crewmembers were being paid less than the minimum ITF wage rates. However, following the action, the owner agreed to sign an ITF agreement with the Korean Seafarers' Union; the agreement will cover not only seafarers on board the Samho Jewelry, but also those on another of its vessels, the Samho Heron. Prospects of an ITF agreement for seafarers on the Panamanian-flagged Rabbana also seem bright.
Inspections of the Panamanian flagged, Sri Lankan owned Windsor Ruby, which also took place in Mumbai, revealed that crewmembers were being paid being paid much less than stipulated by the ITF agreement that the owners had signed up to. The Sri Lankan seafarers were afraid to speak out fearing victimisation. However, the ITF inspector's prompt action led to an agreement by the owner to settle their back pay claim for two months' wages, amounting to around US$24,000, by early next week.
Expressing his reactions to the successful conclusion of the week of action, Mahendra Sharma, Deputy Regional Secretary, ITF Asia Pacific Regional Office said, "The week of action was a resounding success and we are very happy with the outcomes. Apart from signing new agreements and claiming back pay wages, action by our inspectors has led to the signing of ITF agreements by unions in the beneficial ownership countries. Certainly credit is due for this to our dockers' and seafarers' unions in India and Sri Lanka".