Metal Maritime will take Maersk to a hearing at the shipowners’ association Danish Shipping, as part of a complaints procedure under Danish labour law that is destined to end in the special Labour Court.
he union claims that the company breached the Seafarers’ Act and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), as well as the main collective bargaining agreement for navigators and officers.
Maersk banned all going ashore from Danish-flagged vessels because of the omicron variant, which the union says is a ‘clear breach’ of MLC and Section 58 of the Seafarers Act, adding that it is also in disregard of ‘the Danish Model’. The ban was introduced without informing the Danish Maritime Authority or unions.
Metal Maritime leader Ole Philipsen says his union recognises that restrictions were introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19, but insists these were done by democratic means through government and parliament.
The Seafarers’ Act of 1892 guaranteed seafarers the right to go ashore when their ship was in port, and since 1923 seafarers have specifically neither needed to ask nor inform the captain that they were going ashore. They may be asked to stay aboard in special circumstances, but by the captain alone, the union says.
Metal Maritime contacted Maersk, initially believing the ban was a mistake and a misunderstanding of the rules. However, after some email exchanges, the union reported Maersk to the DMA for breaches of the act and convention. The DMA said it had made no decision on the matter.
On 11 March, Maersk announced it was lifting the restrictions on going ashore on all its ships worldwide, but Metal Maritime is pursuing its action.
AP Moller-Maersk chief press officer Povl Rasmussen commented:
We are aware that Metal Maritime have reported this. The collective safety of our crews has been of paramount importance throughout the pandemic, and it is important to state that we have not had a general direction regarding shore leave. Instead, each port and the local situation have been assessed individually and our recommendation has been based on that