Monday, April 15, 2019

International Transport Union Continues the Battle with Flag of Convenience Ship Operator

Stream of Crew Abuses by German Vessel Owner Becomes Too Much for ITF
Shipping News Feature
GERMANY – WORLDWIDE – After criticising the company over past month for its treatment of staff, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has launched a targeted operation against German shipping company Johann M. K. Blumenthal, known as Bluships, over its continued refusal to recognise seafarers' welfare and rights.

The ITF has been increasingly concerned about abuses carried out when vessels are flagged under ‘convenience’ registers and now the targeted operation will see the ITF Inspectorate, a network of 147 inspectors and contacts based in ports all over the world, inspecting and auditing the Blumenthal fleet in ports around the world. Leading the operation will be ITF inspector Sven Hemme, who explained thus:

“ITF inspectors will be inspecting Blumenthal vessels across the globe to ensure that their crews are paid properly, adequately fed and that all of their rights are being upheld. Following the detention of the Anna-Elisabeth by Australian authorities and other breaches on vessels in European ports, safeguarding the rights of seafarers working on Blumenthal ships is now the ITF Inspectorate’s number one priority.

“The ITF is challenging one of Germany’s oldest shipping companies to modernise its business practices in line with what is expected of multinational companies in 2019. The sustainability and ethical impact of a company as well as managing risk and living up to corporate responsibility principles matters in today’s world. Responsible businesses are assessing their supply chains and aligning to initiatives like the UN Global Compact to ensure that, at a minimum, their operations meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

“We are increasingly seeing responsible charterers play a critical and proactive role in this space, selecting ITF certified ships when deciding on vessels to charter. The reality is that the unregulated Flag of Convenience (FoC) system, a system that allows for exploitation and labour abuse of international seafarers, is a risk that responsible charterers aren’t willing to take.

”We’re calling on Blumenthal to be part of the change to help improve the worlds maritime industry, and to bring all their FoC vessels under ITF Agreements and agree to a transparent compliance process that ensures seafarers’ rights, freedoms and working conditions are protected.”

In addition to announcing the targeted operation the ITF also invited Blumenthal’s president Matthias-K Reith to work cooperatively with the global union federation to raise standards for workers across its Flag of Convenience fleet.