STRIKING CREW DETAINS SHIP IN TOKYO

STRIKING CREW DETAINS SHIP IN TOKYO

Eighteen Filipino crewmen, whose cargo ship has been anchored in Tokyo Bay for the past two months, are fighting with the ship's Japanese owner over working conditions and unpaid wages.

The crew has refused to allow the 3,651-ton bulk vessel Crest Shine to sail. The vessel, which trades in East Asia, has been stranded in Urayasu, near Tokyo, since July 19, with the crew onboard.An official with the All Japan Seamen's Union said the principal Filipino complaint is that the ship's owner, Hokoku Kaiun Co. Ltd., won't let crew members join the International Transport Workers Federation.

Vessel owners must pay higher wages and follow tougher work rules under ITF guidelines than those for owners not covered by the union.

Masahiko Nakamura, head of ITF's Tokyo office, said most seamen who work for large Japanese international shipping companies are ITF members. Smaller companies are often more reluctant, he added.

The All Japan union official said in a prepared statement that an ITF inspector visited the ship in June and found substandard conditions.

Under ITF rules, each Filipino crew member is entitled to at least $5.50 per day for food. But Hokoku Kaiun's per diem was $4. An official at Hokoku Kaiun declined to comment on the case.

ITF also said the average monthly wage for crewmen with five years experience is $1,100. But the Filipino crew members were earning $442 a month. The crew hasn't been paid since the dispute started in June. In August, Hokoku

cut off their food.

ITF, various seamen's unions and religious organizations are providing the crew with food.

On Sept. 4, the company sued in a regional court to force the crew to leave the ship. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5. The unions have pledged to fight the case and defend the seamen's rights.