Mob harassed reefer Reina in Norway, with no one to protect vessel and crew

Sept. 2, 2013 at 04:45 by Mikhail Voytenko in Opinion

Is there any law left in Norway, which protects foreign vessels and their owners from racketeers?

Russian Seamen’s Union SUR published recently an article, which revealed a bunch of unlawful activities of trade unions in their pursuit of total control over shipping. SUR being in a firm believe that from now on, after MLC 2006 commencement, all ITF affiliated unions enjoy a total immunity from any law, didn’t even realize that the story may be used as an evidence of unlawful practice for law-enforcement body.

Russian reefer Reina arrived to Kristiansund port, Norway, on Aug 23. Vessel’s owner, Russian company based in S-Petersburg, doesn’t have an ITF Collective Agreement, which is not a must, even under the MLC 2006 requisitions. There should be an Collective Agreement, but not specifically ITF or ITF affiliated. Nevertheless, ITF andNorwegian Seafarers’ Union NSU immediately demanded from the vessel a Collective Agreement signed with NSU. The shipowner rejected the demand, and the hell broke.

They didn’t mention in the article how did ITF and NSU inspectors harass the vessel, but gross, provocative and often insulting towards senior officers manners of ITF inspectors are a secret only to industry media. The rest of the shipping knows ITF practices all too well. Meanwhile, ITF inspectors based in S-Petersburg were storming owner’s office, demanding the Agreement.

After they have been sternly refused, they – unionists – prohibited local pilots to render pilotage services to the hapless vessel. They did it of course, in a well-known unionists manner – indignant pilots refused to serve the rebellious vessel. It is understood, that the pilotage to and from Kristiansund and fjords is compulsory. Desperate owner ordered master to flee. Vessel left Kristiansund early in the morning Aug 28 without pilot on board, thus violating local navigational laws and risking as a result, fine and possible ban to enter Norway waters. SUR gleefully listed potential repercussions against the owner and the vessel.

What rights did ITF and NSU have to demand an ITF Agreement? According to MLC 2006, none. On what legal grounds did ITF and NSU inspectors or activists (strongmen on a payroll) harass vessel, crew and owner’s office, demanding something they had no rights to demand?

Why did pilots refuse pilotage, jeopardizing navigational safety in the area by failing in their duty?

If there was a break of MLC 2006 rules, vessel should be detained by Norway PSC, as the country which ratified the convention. If there was no detainable deficiency, vessel was free to go. Vessel violated local rules by fleeing the port without pilot, after being harassed and unlawfully refused obligatory services by civic organization, which was trying to force vessel’s owner into a deal profiting this organizations, by near-criminal methods.

Is there any law left in Norway, which protects foreign vessels and their owners from racketeers? Or is the unionists’ mob above the law, and can do whatever it likes to extort money and obedience from the ship owners?

Voytenko Mikhail

Sep 2 13

Mob harassed reefer Reina in Norway, with no one to protect vessel and crew

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