ITF Targets ‘Black Sea of Shame’

ITF Targets ‘Black Sea of Shame’

The International Transport Workers’ Federation and its affiliated maritime unions in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are aiming to improve safety and working conditions in what they call the “Black Sea of Shame” in actions on May 13-15.

According to the ITF, the Black Sea is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a seafarer. As a result, it is the focus of an ITF campaign to boost safety and drive up standards by exposing unacceptable conditions and bringing them to the attention of the public and governments. The goal is to put governments on notice of what has to change before Aug. 20, 2013, when the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, goes into effect. This campaign action will involve joint inspection teams made up of ITF inspectors and union activists visiting ships in Black Sea ports.

There are around 2,400 vessels working the Black Sea, many of which are more than 20 years old, ITF said. The shipping market there is characterized by old vessels moving low value goods, with low or unpaid wages coupled with a high risk of death and injury, ITF added.  

“Some of the worst ships in the world are to be found plying the Black Sea,” said Steve Cotton, ITF acting general secretary, in a written statement. “Work conditions are often shameful and safety non-existent. The human cost is enormous.”