Monday, September 3, 2012

Unions Target Freighters and other Ships as Maritime Labour Convention Bites

Flags of Convenience Targeted by ITF
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – As we write this the latest International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) maritime week of action begins today in Baltic Sea ports, and runs from 3rd to 7th September. Trade unions in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden have formed joint inspection teams that will check conditions and pay on ships across the region and promote the advantages of being part of a trade union. Freighters and other vessels from numerous shipping companies will be looked at closely, particularly if flying one of the ITF’s listed ‘flags of convenience’.

The ITF runs these campaigns on an irregular basis concentrating on different geographical areas each time. With the acceptance two weeks ago of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLO) the ITF and the shipping employers organisation the International Shipping Federation (ISF) issued a joint warning to vessel owners and operators that they should ensure all was well with their employment policies and conditions and that the Convention was being respected.

The main concern for the ITF and its sister organisations are the conditions imposed on many crew aboard the so called flags of convenience vessels. Cases like that of the tanker Leon, stranded for weeks outside Hull with little or no provisions or the appalling cases throughout Asia which we reported on in February, demonstrate that, even in the modern world, many problems still exist when shipping companies treat their staff with little or no respect whether for financial or other reasons.