A sea of troubles

ITF re-launches action week targeting “shocking” levels of crew abuse and dangerous ships in the Black Sea.

The ITF union is re-launching its week of action against “shocking” levels of crew abuse and unsafe vessels in the Black Sea.

The Black Sea of Shame campaign revisits the region two years after the last crackdown on substandard owners.

The union and its affiliates will be based in ports from Monday.

It said the Black Sea remained “one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a seafarer. This week of action is the latest step in the campaign to publicise and improve that disgraceful situation.”

Vessels calling in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine will be boarded for inspections and to inform seafarers of their rights, particularly under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC).

ITF maritime coordinator Tomas Abrahamsson said: “Any honest observer will find themselves appalled by the low standards in this region. The state of some of these vessels and the abominable working conditions on them almost defy description.

“Unions are actively battling these conditions and, even in the face of current political events, they are focusing as usual on the interests of workers.”

He urged governments to take action as well and added there had been some encouraging detentions by port state control in Bulgaria and Russia but much more needs to be done.”

A new report on Black Sea conditions claims MLC has yet to be widely enforced, with the region still a haven for older vessels with inadequate insurance operated by owners with “scant regard for obligations to their crew.”