Starting 22 November, Seafarers and Dockworkers Unions in India and Sri Lanka carried out a week long industrial action against 'Flags of Convenience’ (FOC) shipping. Activists at all major ports in India and Sri Lanka launched investigations of ships, crew contracts, and working and living conditions on board FOC ships.
FOC ships are notorious for employing seafarers on extremely exploitative terms. These ships are registered in select countries, which do not follow labour laws regarding sea farers. The country of origin of the ship is hidden, and the sea farers who are hired are from other lands. Ship-owners use FOC registers for many reasons - cheap registration fees, low or no tax payment and the freedom to employ crew on poor salary and terms of work.
On the first day of the action, activists inspected 24 FOC ships in different ports. In Mumbai, the activists forced a ship, called "Lugela" to sign an agreement with the crew that ensured respectable wages and working conditions. This ship is owned by a Greek Company, flies the panamian flag, and employs Ukrainian crew. Activists also carried out inspections in Paradip, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Haldia, Tuticorin, as well as in Colombo in Sri Lanka. They forced several owners to sign agreements with workers according to the international labour standards.