16 October 2012 – Activists on board a vessel during the South Asia week of action
A week-long campaign, launched by dockers’ and seafarers’ unions in port cities across India, has led to substantial gains for ship crews. The first of the two staggered weeks of action in South Asia from 8-12 October, covering selected ports in India, saw inspectors and unions visit 43 ships and sign up vessel owners to 12 ITF agreements.
In Kandla, for example, the United Arab Emirate owners of the Liberian flagged Ras Ghumays-1 bowed to sustained pressure and agreed to sign up seven of their vessels with the ITF union in the Philippines. Meanwhile the dockers’ union came to the assistance of 22 Syrian crew on board the Oriental Queen-VI, who were owed US$277, 000 in outstanding wages and were enduring appalling conditions. In Mumbai port, inspection teams were also for the first time able to inspect vessels at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust port, in particular in private terminals owned by Maersk and Dubai Ports World. A total of four ships were inspected.
The ITF union team in Visakhapatnam persuaded the Japanese owner of the Panama- flagged Sammy to sign an wage agreement for the Filipino crew on board and alerted port state control to a substandard vessel, the Fatahur Rahman; it was detained in the port.
At the privately owned PSA terminal in Tuticorin, dockers’ unionists stood in solidarity with the crew on board the St John Glory, culminating in an ITF agreement. Further negotiations also led to another agreement on another of the company’s vessels.
Commenting on the activities, Sangam Tripathy, assistant ITF Asia-Pacific regional secretary said, “The Indian inspectors and contacts and the port and seafarers’ unions, in a display of strong solidarity, have once again made it clear that flag of convenience ships visiting our ports cannot escape action by hiding behind walls of secrecy created by dubious ownership structures and hiring of cheap and exploited crews without decent rights.”