Today we mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD). A day when we mourn for those who have been killed at work - taken from their friends, families and workmates too soon.
We remember this year, especially, seafarers who have died from Covid-19 and its effects. And we think of those seafarers affected by the conflict that is ongoing in Ukraine as a consequence of Russia's invasion.
We remember Hadisur Rahman.
On the ninth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wednesday 2 March 2022, the war became deadly serious for the seafaring community, when a Russian missile became the first to hit a merchant (non-military) vessel, the M/V BANGLAR SAMRIDDHI, and killing Bangladeshi seafarer Hadisur Rahman.
The remainder of the crew survived once they were able to extinguish a fire caused by the missile that had broken out on the bulker. The crew, including the late Mr Rahman, are members of the Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers' Association (BMMOA), an ITF Seafarers’ Section affiliate.
Rahman, who was the vessel’s third engineer, lost his life in the apparent crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces stationed along the once navigable, but now mine-laden, Southern Buh / БогRiver.
The M/V BANGLAR SAMRIDDHI’s crew had been trapped since Russia’s invasion began. Along with them were what an estimated 1,500 other foreign (non-Russian, non-Ukrainian) crew aboard about 120 vessels.
ITF Inspector based in Odessa Natalia Yefrimenko has been helping many of those seafarers secure safe passage home. Seafarers have also received strong support from their various ITF-affiliated home unions and from the only ITF maritime affiliate in the country - the Marine Transport Workers' Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU).
Together, seafarers’ unions, employers, ship managers and home governments, have successfully helped hundreds of the trapped foreign crew to escape the fighting and begin their journeys home. The number of Filipino seafarers trapped in the conflict zone, for example, dropped from around 500 in late March, to under 90 in mid-April.
Meanwhile, the surviving women and men who make up the crew of the BANGLAR SAMRIDDHI were supported by their union a to make their journey to Bangladesh via Moldova and finally, through Romania. In welcoming his members safely home, BMMOA union president Captain Anam Chowdhury expressed gratitude and thanks to ITF for the federation’s “guidance, support and trust during this crisis as well as over the past years”.
The union has vowed to honour the legacy of fallen seafarer Hadisur Rahman.