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India detains seafarers after accident of the Panama-flagged Mirach

An investigation report blames navigational error for the accident India is continuing to detain eight foreign national seafarers from the Panama-flagged Mirach who have been held since the ship hit a rock and sunk off the Kanyakumari coast on 1 April.The seafarers, who include the captain, are being held without a court order. An investigation report blames navigational error for the accident. A further 15 Georgian crew members have been freed following detention.The seafarers still detained are all officers and include six Turkish nationals and two Azerbaijanis. The detained seafarers are said to be very depressed and not eating.ITF inspector K Sree Kumar, assistant secretary of the Madras Port Trust Employees Union, who has met the seafarers, says the ITF will be working to help release them, and that the detention of the crew and their passport and travel documents was "a clear case of violation of crew rights."Source: ITF

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ITF support for offshore workers

two-day meeting in Split of Croatia The ITF Offshore Task Force Group has just concluded a two-day meeting in Split, Croatia. The group was formed as a stand-alone body in 1997 and is chaired Norrie McVicar, previously chair of its predecessor group in the ITF.Originally formed with the participation of US and Mexican trade unions to protect the rights of offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico, the group has expanded to include unions representing offshore workers around the world and support them in their efforts to develop collective bargaining. Delegates at the Split meeting also came from Asia Pacific and European unions.Danilo Prestint of the Seafarers' Union of Croatia, which hosted the meeting, explains that the group's aims are: "Identical to those of the ITF campaign against flag of convenience ships - to work for the introduction of ITF acceptable agreements to ensure decent working and living conditions for those working in this industry."To this end, the group works to organise unorganised workers in the offshore oil and gas sector, prevent social dumping, encourage collective bargaining and freedom of union organisation, and ensure conditions of employment in accordance with the ITF."Source: ITF

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Indian seafarers threaten to boycott water of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

Foreign governments have to take measures for piracy Indian seafarers are threatening to refuse to sail to the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean if foreign governments fail to halt the increasing violent attacks on seafarers.The statement from Abdul Gani Serang, general-secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), follows growing concern in India about the risks to Indian seafarers.There have been nationwide protests following the continued kidnap of seven Indian crew members of the Asphalt Venture, who Somali pirates still hold captive despite the payment of a ransom to release the ship and eight other crew members. Somali pirates currently hold captive about 50 Indian seafarers.Abdul Gani Serang commented that: They are kidnapped, taken hostage and going through terrible psychological trauma, and even their families suffer in silence. But little attention is given by international governments.Meanwhile, naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden and other danger waters are continuing to take action to prevent attacks and rescue victims. In an operation in the Gulf of Oman on 16 May, naval forces are reported to have killed four pirates attacking the German-owned, Panama-flagged supertanker Artemis Glory.On 13 May, a French warship disrupted a ...

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ITF welcomes US Coast Guard report on Deepwater Horizon

The Coast Guard report blamed the Marshall Islands The ITF has welcomed the recent report of the US Coast Guard into the tragedy at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year, when 11 oil rig workers died in an explosion which led to the largest-ever accidental offshore oil spillage, polluting a wide area of the Gulf and the Mississippi coast of the USA. Transocean, the company operating the oil rig, had registered Deepwater Horizon in the flag of convenience (FOC) Marshall Islands.The Coast Guard report blamed the Marshall Islands for not surveying the rig and abdicating its responsibilities by delegating inspections to other organisations.David Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers section, said that the Coast Guards report: Reinforces the ITF's long-held position that so-called flag of convenience or runaway-flag vessels often facilitate and even encourage unsafe business practices. many FOC operators have no regard for the mariners, their competency and other victims who suffer as a result of the runaway-flag system. Putting swift profits ahead of safety, runaway-flag entities also risk catastrophic environmental damage, like that which occurred last year when the rig exploded.Applauding the Coast Guard's focus on the flag states failure to ensure ...

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Minimum wage for seafarers is set to rise by 7.3 per cent between January 2012 and December 2013

Aims to provide an international safety net for the protection of decent work for seafarers The internationally agreed minimum wage for seafarers is set to rise by 7.3 per cent between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2013. The increase in the International Labour Organization (ILO) minimum basic wage for seafarers was agreed by the ILO's Joint Maritime Commission Sub-Committee on Wages of Seafarers meeting in Geneva on 26-27 April.The agreement takes the minimum monthly wage from the present US$545 to US$555 on 1 January 2012, US$568 on 1 January 2013 and to US$585 on 31 December 2013. Consolidated monthly wages, including overtime and annual paid leave, would rise to approximately US$975, US$998 and US$1,028 respectively.One of the main aims of the minimum basic wage is to provide an international safety net for the protection of decent work for seafarers.Although an ILO report suggested that the minimum wage should be increased to US$710 a month to maintain purchasing power, shipowners refused to consider such a large increase in the current economic climate.The ILO Governing Body will be asked to endorse the recommendations at a meeting in November 2011.Source: ITF

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Holding of seafarers in Indian Ocean condemned

State of lawlessness The worldwide shipping industry as well as the ITF and unions have roundly condemned the latest development in the Indian Ocean piracy crisis. The incident involves the ordeal of the Indian crew of a merchant ship, who are being held by pirates despite payment of a ransom.The 15 crewmembers of the tanker Asphalt Venture were held following the hijack by Somali pirates on 28 September. After a ransom was paid, the ship was released on 15 April. However, six officers and one rating were forced to accompany the pirates ashore, in spite of dialogue with the owners during which it was agreed that all hostages would be released.It has been suggested that pirates in Harardhere in Somalia decided not to honour the agreement in retaliation for the recent arrest of Somali pirates by the Indian navy.In a statement released on 18 April, shipping industry bodies, the ITF and its affiliates the National Union of Seafarers of India and the Maritime Union of India said: "This is a fundamental change to previous practice and moves the issue from being just between the ship owner and the pirates to being between the pirates and a government. It is a ...

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ITF urges action over problem

Dangers of badly prepared shipping containers The International Transport Federation (ITF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched a campaign in February to highlight the dangers of badly prepared shipping containers.The union will lobby politicians, the EU and other stakeholders to push for action to stem "overloaded, badly packed or inadequately secured freight containers, and those carrying undeclared dangerous goods".Source: Safety4Sea

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IMB supports global campaign vs piracy

Action on the issue of maritime piracy The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has come out in support of a joint campaign launched by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Intertanko, Intercargo, BIMCO and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) that urges governments to take firm action on the issue of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.The campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the human and economic costs of maritime piracy, urges governments around the world to prioritise six key actions:Reducing the effectiveness of easily identifiable motherships;Authorizing naval forces to hold pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment;Fully criminalizing all acts of piracy and intent to commit piracy under national laws, in accordance with their mandatory duty to co-operate to suppress piracy under international conventions;Increasing naval assets available in the affected areas;Providing greater protection and support for seafarers; andTracing and criminalizing the organisers and financiers behind the criminal networks.So far in 2011, 13 vessels have been hijacked by suspected Somali pirates, with a total of 243 crewmembers taken hostage.In addition, six crew were kidnapped from a vessel that was hijacked and then left adrift in the Indian Ocean. Of most concern, however, are the seven murders committed by ...

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ITF help East European seafarers win their wages

Seafarers win US$355,000 in wages The ITF in Denmark has helped four East European seafarers win US$355,000 in wages owed when they were abandoned without pay and food in Svendborg in 2009.The seafarers, from Lithuania and Ukraine, were left high and dry when the owner of their coaster, the Lis Weber, went bankrupt. Their wages have now been retrieved following the sale of the ship at auction. The ITF provided legal and technical assistance.Sourcwe: ITF

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