75 years after its start, the International Transport Workers' Federation's flag of convenience campaign has proved to be more relevant than ever - there are still cases of violations and injustice on board FOC vessels. This third in this year issue of the "Maritime Unions Herald", the Maritime Transport Workers' Federation journal, provides insight into why this is happening.
Today the list of flags of convenience includes 42 countries, among them there are open registers, such as the Marshall Islands, Liberia and the Bahamas, recognized as the best in the industry. However, the FOC campaign is still needed to end labor exploitation in the maritime industry as there are many cheap registers, the lack of proper oversight of working conditions by flag states, a lot of abandoned crews around the world.
In the columns of the latest issue of "MUH" the captain of the m/v Grace Felix expresses gratitude to the Seafarers' Union of Russia and the International Transport Workers' Federation: their intervention helped him to be released on bail from prison in the city of Durres (Albania) with harsh conditions of detention. Thanks to the trade union support, on May 8, 2023, the City court of Tirana changed the pre-trial restriction for the seafarer from “custody” to “bail” with a ban on leaving Albania. “This incident has taught me a great importance of trade union for seafarers,” - the captain from St. Petersburg admitted. “And I consider it is absolutely necessary to join it.”
On February 20, local authorities arrested the m/v Grace Felix on charges of falsifying documents related to ship-to-ship cargo transfer of allegedly Russian oil off the coast of Greece. According to Albanian police's statements, the tanker came under investigation based on the intelligence data revealed during investigations into oil smuggling from Libya and other countries. It is alleged that the Russian oil was transferred on board the Grace Felix - more than 180,000 barrels in total - on February 11, and then the tanker headed for Albania. On February 28, in the afternoon, Captain Alexei Smaznov was taken to the police station.
According to the Russian embassy, the seafarer was supposed to be released or charged within 48 hours, but neither happened. Alexei was destined to remain in custody for more than two months. In early March, it became clear that he wouldn't be released soon, and the trade union came to the rescue.
The articles from the “Sea Lessons Learned” section provide case studies explaining why “your mobile phone must be switched to airplane mode when in the wheelhouse”, and that “extreme caution needed if the average wave height reaches the level of the freeboard”
In this issue of the journal, you can learn interesting facts about how occupational hazards are compensated in different countries: after all, health risks in the workplace cause occupational diseases and can exacerbate other health issues. Thus, according to the World Health Organization, this accounted for economic losses of 4-6% of GDP in most countries.
Read more about this and much more in the electronic version of the journal.
Chemical tanker Sichem Princess Marie-Chantal.
The vessel's registry port was Panama City when this picture was taken in 2005, but since 2007 it has been registered in Valletta under the Maltese flag. It was owned by Eitzen Chemical (Singapore) and has an ITF Special Agreement on board.
Photo: wikimedia.org, Creative Commons CC0 License