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ITF: Third East Asia week of action h as begun

26 to 30 September at major ports in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia ITF inspectors and members of seafarer and docker unions has begun a week of action (26 to 30 September) at major ports in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. Staggered weeks of action are being held in Indian and Sri Lanka in September, November and December, with inspections taking place this week in Cochin, Chennai, Colombo and Tuticorin.The action - the third this year - is linked to the ITF's flags of convenience and ports of convenience campaigns, and will focus on the condition and provision of lifesaving and cargo- related equipment, as well as on crew terms and conditions.In Japan, checks will be made at the port of Mishima-Kawanoe following reports of injuries, particularly among casual workers working long shifts there. Trade unionists will rally outside the premises of shipowner Kotoku Kaiun, which has refused to sign ITF agreements, as well as in front of the head office of Dowa Line in Tokyo.In Korea, activities will take place at the ports of Pusan, Incheon and Ulsan, followed by rallies at Pohang, Pusan and Incheon in support of the ILWU union's struggle to represent workers at the Port ...

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Australian ITF raises concerns over alleged crew bashings

The seafarers refuse to sign a sub-standard industrial agreement from the owners ITF Australia is highly concerned about the welfare of at least two crew members onboard the BP Chartered "Britto" after receiving cries for help this morning.The Panamanian registered FOC tanker had been working on the Australian coast, servicing BP's domesticfuel trade under an ITF International Minimum Standards Agreement for its Filipino, Bangladeshi and Korean crew.The ITF has been called on to protect at least two seafarers who have allegedly been bashed onboard for refusing to sign a sub-standard industrial agreement from the ship's Korean owners. It was further reported that other crew were threaten be thrown overboard by the ship's master if they did not comply.Representatives from theITF have exposed the dark history of the ship, which has been trading under Australian government permits to Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong, Port Botanyand Adelaide.On two occasions, the ship owners have been forced to pay significant back wages to the crew and on at least one occasion the ITF understands that the crews were forced to repay their wages back to the captain."This is the real cost of Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping in our domestic trade - unpaid wages, stand ...

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A three-year pay deal for seafarers has been agreed

After negotiations in the International Bargaining Forum on July A three-year pay deal for seafarers has been agreed following negotiations in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) between representatives of the ITF and the employers' Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) in Miami, USA on 27 and 28 July.The three-year deal covering all IBF agreements takes effect from 1 January 2012 and will mean a 2% pay increase on 1 January 2012, a further 2.5% increase on 1 January 2013 and a final 3% increase on 1 January 2014.The percentage increase will be applied to an element that includes both pay and union funding. However, the specifics of the application of the increases between officer and rating categories and funding elements will be decided at local negotiations between individual union affiliates and the employers.As well as further aspects of the collective bargaining agreement discussed during their talks, including dealing with bullying and harassment, the IBF also debated piracy and agreed a revised text on warlike operations/high risk areas.For further details see press release on - www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/6266/region/1/section/0/order/1Source: ITF

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ITF campaigns against irresponsible ship owners

The call is coming on the heels of boat tragedies The International Transport workers Federation (ITF) has called on all transport workers unions particularly in Russia to support the ITF campaign against irresponsible ship owners and operators, who, in the pursuit of short-term profit, who daily jeopardise the safety and lives of both passengers and transport workers.The call is coming on the heels of boat tragedies, particularly in Russia, where a tourist vessel "The Bulgaria" sank in the River Volga on July 10, killing 120 people on board.The campaign followed media reports that the ship's operator held no passenger licence, and that the vessel had been overloaded, besides an allegation that one of its engines was not functioning.ITF Russia representative, Mikhail Lyakhov lamented that "the situation arouses serious concern, because the majority of vessels of this class in Russia are aged over 30 years - The Bulgaria was in fact built in 1955."He added that, "In this tragic moment we express our solidarity with the transport workers of Russia and with all people of Russia."In a letter expressing condolences to the families of victims, ITF General Secretary, David Cockroft expressed hope that there would be a proper investigation into the ...

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Port health inspectors at Southampton are joining industrial action

Workers represented by the ITF-affiliated Unite and Unison unions The ITF has asked its inspectors to notify port state control in the countries in which they are based of any approaching cruise ships that have left the Port of Southampton without getting a health certificate. Port unions will also be notified.Port health inspectors at Southampton are joining industrial action taking place across the city to resist plans by its Conservative-led council to force all municipal workers into pay cuts and inferior conditions. The council plans to issue all municipal workers with dismissal letters and a new contract to sign within 90 days or be sacked.Workers represented by the ITF-affiliated Unite and Unison unions are taking industrial action, including port health inspectors, who issue health certificates to all shipping using the port, as well as checking food imports into the UK.The ITF is instructing its inspectors after learning that some cruise ships are likely to attempt to break the strike by leaving the port without a health certificate in the hope of obtaining one in their next port.Source: ITF

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Australian prosecution for underpayment of oil rig workers

These workers were being paid around $3 an hour The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Australian Workers Union (AWU) have welcomed the decision by the Fair Work Ombudsman to prosecute three companies, and one company director, over more than Aus$120,000 in alleged underpayments of four Filipino nationals who worked on oilrigs off Western Australia.Union activists members of the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance discoveredthat these workers were being paid around $3 an hour, less than a high school student working at McDonald's, says the Alliance.Paul Howes, AWU national secretary, said that foreign workers on Australias offshore oilrigs, must be treated with respect and decency, and able to earn the same wages Australians would expect for the job.Source: ITF

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Brazil bans shore leave for Filipino and other seafarers

Seafarers without the required papers face a fine if they go ashore in Brazil Brazil has introduced a regulation requiring a visa for all visiting seafarers from countries that have not signed up to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 108 or 185 on seafarers identification documents.Seafarers holding papers from countries that have ratified 108 will not need a visa and will be allowed shore leave. Seafarers from non-signatory states will be able to leave their ship provided they have a Brazilian visa in their passport.Seafarers without the required papers face a fine if they disembark or go ashore in Brazil.The 108 Convention is due to be superseded by ILO 185, which covers biometric identity documents, but not enough countries have yet signed up to this to bring it into effect.Source: ITF

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Ice age for the wages of seafarers due to economic crisis is over

Agreement on an increase in the ILO minimum wage for an AB seaman Seafarers, like many other workers around the world have, if still lucky enough to have a job, been enduring a pay freeze since the global financial crisis poured cold water on an overheating situation.Now, it seems, the ice age for wages is over as the sun of recovery, albeit still shining weakly, begins to melt the frozen landscape of pay negotiations. The first breakthrough came, Spring-like, late in April when the Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) met and, despite many differences of opinion, agreed on an increase in the ILO minimum wage for an able-bodied seaman (AB).The new three-year deal will see the AB basic pay, currently USD 545 a month, rise by 7.3% from January next year to stand at USD 585 in December 2014. It is the first increase in the minimum since the last three-year agreement, reached in February 2006, took it from USD 500 to its present level.The significance is that ship owners, represented by the International Shipping Federation (ISF), have for the last two years been telling their JMC counterparts, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), that ...

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New Zealand week of action on FOC ships

Inspection on ships to check out ships flying flags of convenience and the conditions for seafarers Members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand have been inspecting ships in the countrys main ports as part of an ITF week of action to check out ships flying flags of convenience and the conditions for seafarers not yet covered by ITF agreements.The week, which ended on 3 June, saw maritime workers board vessels to ensure that crew conditions, wages, and health and safety standards were up to scratch.The unions general secretary, Joe Fleetwood, said there had been a number of serious incidents on overseas vessels, including FOC vessels, in New Zealand ports and in and around New Zealand waters in recent years."We have had ongoing incidents ranging from underpayment of wages, failure for crews to be returned home at the end of their contracts, mistreatment and abuse, all the way up to serious injuries and deaths, and the sinking of vessels."Source: ITF

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