Dowa Line is a Japanese company with a fleet of 24 bulk and cargo vessels most of which fly the Panamanian flag operating in the tramp market in the Caribbean Sea, North and South America. Its vessels are managed by Hiong Guan Navegacion Co Ltd., a company registered at the same address as Dowa in Japan. Dowa vessels are crewed by Filipino seafarers. Although 85% of crews working on Japanese owned ships registered under FOCs are covered by ITF agreements, Dowa prefers not to work with unions.
Following a US Coast Guard investigation in May 2008 into unlawful discharging of oily waste and falsification of the record book on the vessel Balsa 62, Hiong Guan agreed to pay a US$1.75 million fine and to implement a detailed environmental compliance plan which means that the whole fleet have to be strictly monitored for a period of 3 years. Dowa was also involved in a major oil pollution incident in Tampa Bay in 1993.
The ITF has previously noted a link between companies with poor environmental records and respect for seafarers’ rights.
Under an ITF agreement crews:
- Do not have to work for more than 9 months before taking leave
- Have a set basic working week
- Get guaranteed overtime, with pay for additional overtime
- Are entitled to minimum rest periods
- Receive benefits for themselves or their families in the event of sickness, injury or death in service
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