Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Fat And Tattooed' British Ferry Crews Fetch Their Mates

Trades Unions Act Against Discrimination and Insults
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – As predicted in our story of the 14th September, the trades unions have launched a week of action to push for European Union intervention in the ferry sector. The Fair and Safe Ferries for All event, which runs from 27th to 30th September, is intended to highlight unequal working and pay conditions in the sector and the use of seafarers to carry out work that should be done by safety-trained dockers.

According to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) who gave us the story, the situation was not helped by comments accredited to Stena Line Ferries Manager Pim de Lang, that British ratings are all ‘fat and tattooed’. ITF say Stena Ferries is being targeted for its treatment of non-EU nationals – which includes paying Filipino seafarers 2 euros an hour.

The week commenced with a rally yesterday by dockers and seafarers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland outside Stena Ferries’ office in Hook of Holland and whilst the Irish and UK contingent were en route to the protest aboard the Stena Britannica they collected signatures for a petition calling on Stena to respect the rights of all workers to be represented by a trade union, stop forcing crew to do dockers’ work and to employ all seafarers on an equal and fair basis.

Meanwhile in Zeebrugge a delegation from the ACV Transcom and BTB unions met with the port authorities to explain their concerns over lashing (cargo stowage/fastening) being done by seafarers on some vessels calling at the port. The position and concerns of both unions and ITF was explained and noted. The port authorities confirmed that they stand by their earlier statement that lashing and securing of freight is a dockers' job and that owners, stevedores and operators should respect the rules and regulations of lashing.

On behalf of the ITF, its European arm the ETF and its member unions he once again called on the European Commission to reopen discussions on the Passenger Ferry Manning Directive which was withdrawn in 2004. Speaking at the Hook of Holland rally, Ferry campaign coordinator Norrie McVicar, said that he was very proud to be involved with this campaign to establish a new “threshold of decency” in the ferry industry that would rid it of the charge of “institutional race discrimination” which is driving the ferry sector into a “race to the bottom” and compromising safety.

Regarding the above story we were unable to contact anyone at Stena Line at the time of going to press and will include any comment from them when we receive it.

Meanwhile elsewhere a Baltic Sea week of action run by members of ITF-affiliated seafarers’ and dockers’ unions enters its second day today. Running from 27th Sept to 1st October the event involves ship inspections in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

On the first day (Monday), 46 ship visits were carried out. As well as helping with complaints of non-, late- or under-payment, the volunteer teams are also checking that ships’ crews are not carrying out dockers’ work.

Photo:- Stena Britannica under construction in Wismar