Maritime News

Black Sea action reaches thousands of seafarers

17 May 2013

Feodosia Black Sea*
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ITF and affiliated maritime union inspection teams in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine inspected around 120 vessels in some 30 ports, spoke to several thousand seafarers and recovered unpaid wages during a four-day action to expose substandard working conditions and fight for improved safety in the Black Sea.

The teams focused on changes ahead with the coming into force on 20 August of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. They handed out advice and information on their rights to seafarers and spoke to shipowners about what the convention will mean for them.

In Russia, the teams managed to claim US$ 73,800 in unpaid back pay owed to seafarers. In most countries the inspection teams held constructive meetings with harbor masters and port state control officers, relationships they will build on in future. In Turkey, a documentary film is being made about conditions in the Black Sea, and in many countries, extensive media coverage was achieved.

The 'Black Sea of Shame' action, from 13-16 May, was the latest move in an intensive ITF campaign to increase safety and drive up standards in the Black Sea, which is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a seafarer.

ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton commented: "This action successfully shone a light on malpractice and made seafarers aware of their rights and how to exercise them under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Some of the worst ships in the world are to be found plying the Black Sea. Work conditions are often shameful and safety non-existent. The human cost is enormous.

Some 2,400 vessels work in the Black Sea. Many are over 20 years old and around 800 are over 30. The shipping market is characterised by ancient vessels moving low value goods, where sinkings are not uncommon. Seafarers experience rock bottom and unpaid wages and the risk of death and injury is deemed to be part of the job.

A special edition of the Seafarers' Bulletin, the ‘Black Sea Bulletin’, produced for the campaign week in Russian, Turkish, Arabic and English, can be seen here.

As part of its Black Sea campaign, launched in 2012, the ITF released a report 'Black Sea of Shame', which exposed some of the appalling conditions seafarer face. It can be downloaded here  >>




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