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i-maritime Newsletter

Seafarers, port workers launch campaign against FOC ships - 2011-12-08

Indian seafarers and port workers plan to launch a joint campaign against poor working-condition of men on board of flag-of-convenience (FOC) ships.

For a week from December 5, the volunteers of seafarers and port unions will inspect FOC vessels at major Indian ports including Mumbai and Jawaharlal Nehru ports. Their findings will be reported to the maritime regulator.

The campaign, part of a global initiative by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), is being launched in India jointly by three trade unions—Transport and dock workers union, National Union of Seafarers of India and the Maritime Union of India, statement issued by one of the unions said. The campaign is also against operation of sub-standard ships.

A flag of convenience ship is one that flies the flag of a country other than the country of ownership. Such ships are generally referred as FOC vessels. These ships normally do not follow the manning norms, standard of maintenance and on-board working conditions.

Shipowners go for FOC registration as the registration fees are normally low, they can employ cheap labour and the taxes will be nil or low.

“This is what makes the flag so attractive to shipowners” said a union official.

FOC ships follow the rules of the country where it is registered. FOC counties include Panama, Cyprus, Malta and Bahamas.

Mr S.R.Kulkarni, Chairman, Asia Pacific region of ITF, said ships involved in recent collision and other marine accidents in the Indian Ocean were sub-standard FOC ships. The week-long campaign is against the operation of such sub-standard ships calling at Indian ports.

The Indian maritime administration also has been taking measurers to prevent sub-standard shipping. Recently, it has decided to ban certain categories of ships above 25 years calling at Indian ports.

Source: Hindu Business Line