Over the past few days, the office of the Far Eastern Territorial Organization of the Seafarers’ Union of Russia (FETO SUR) has been receiving calls from seafarers who are concerned about the situation in connection with the decision of the Prosecutor General's Office to designate the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) as “undesirable” organization.
The seafarers who have called the office of FETO SUR have first-hand knowledge of situations when the support and assistance of the ITF helped them safely sign-off from their vessels and receive back wages during the pandemic. That was not an easy task to do, since many states did not allow seafarers even to go ashore, let alone transiting through their country upon the termination of their contracts.
For example, the Second Engineer Vyacheslav Patlaenko appealed to the Seafarers' Union of Russia three times asking assistance in repatriation upon the end of his contracts on the vessels m/v "MSC Donaco", m/v "RDO Fortuna" and m/v "MSC Bremen". In all three cases, FETO SUR contacted ITF Inspectors of various countries, who provided the necessary assistance to the Russian seafarer. And once he learned about the decision of the Prosecutor General’s Office, he contacted us and shared his point of view on this issue: this decision would not be to the benefit of the seafarers.
The captain of the tanker "Stolt Groenland" Alexander Rostovtsev expressed his deep gratitude to the ITF for its help and assistance in repatriation from South Korea after three years of imprisonment in this country due to an incident on board the tanker caused by the specifics of the cargo. Thanks to experienced ITF lawyers, the captain was able to leave South Korea and receive all wages he earned. He cannot even imagine how Russian seafarers will protect their legal rights and interests while working on ships under flags of convenience without ITF collective agreements.
The boatswain of the tanker "Sakhalin Island" reported that if they didn't have an ITF collective agreement, they would not be able to receive wages that meet international requirements. And it would be very difficult to advocate the rights of seafarers working on board foreign flagged vessels, since Russian legislation does not apply on board these ships.
In general, the Far Eastern seafarers have a unanimous opinion: it is not possible to break off with the International Transport Workers' Federation, since seafarers will lose jobs on the international labor market and, most importantly, will not have the opportunity to protect their rights and interests.
On behalf of the seafarers of the Russian Far East, Nikolay Sukhanov, FETO SUR Chairman
September 11, 2023