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DIY dock work, Genoa in the spotlight

Genova - Unregulated self-loading/unloading on board the Tunisian shipping company COTUNAV’s ferry Salamboo. This practice, which consists in relying on crew to carry out tasks that pertain to dock workers - the loading and unloading of goods - is only allowed with special authorisations

Genova - Unregulated self-loading/unloading on board the Tunisian shipping company COTUNAV’s ferry Salamboo. This practice, which consists in relying on crew to carry out tasks that pertain to dock workers - the loading and unloading of goods - is only allowed with special authorisations (by Italian law) and in any case requires additional pay for the extra work performed (according to international law). This seems not to be the case for Tunisian crew contracts, which aroused the attention of inspectors from the IFT, the international sailors’ union which guarantees contractual minimums in all the countries of the world, including the flags of convenience (Panama, Liberia, etc...). According to ITF records, the Salamboo, which calls regularly at the port of Genoa, arrived at Calata Ignazio Inglese in the evening of Saturday, 2 September.

There were no terminal personnel present to assist her, neither from the Genoa Port Terminal, from the Sole Company present, in other words, the two organisations that carry out the tasks of loading and unloading on the decks at Genoa. When the doors opened, the record reads, the first three rows of semi-trailers had already been “taken down,” that is freed from the safety chains that are put on to secure the cargo on board ship. The inspectors recorded the presence of only three sailors in the garage for the entire loading operation, who handled the shipment when the ship departed: “The Tunisian sailors for whom we carried out the inspection,” the two inspectors, Francesco di Fiore and Davide Traverso, explained, “indicated that in Genoa the lashing and unlashing of the chains is carried out by on-board personnel against their will and without extra pay.”

Traverso explained that the ship uses the Tunisian flag contract, which according to the captain calls for flat rate of pay: the sailor works however many hours, and during those hours he does everything that is required, clearly including port workers’ duties.

Duties that are not forbidden in Italy, but subject to the rigorous constraints of article 16 of the Port Law, although the “Salamboo” case - voices on the docks say - was anything but an isolated case, neither in Italy nor in Genoa, where there was a lively debate between the social partners and the Grimaldi Group. Internationally, a sailor can do a port worker’s job, but always on the basis of a clear agreement between sailors, port workers, and the shipowner, which also defines the economic compensation for the work done and the risks taken.

The inspectors forwarded their records to the secretary of FIT CISL Liguria, pointing out that “in the contracts signed and approved by the ITF there are clear rules: sailors should not do the work of port workers.” Also because, if sailors do port work for free, this is economically harmful to terminal employees as well as to company shareholders, and their lack of training is compensated by an indemnity paid by the State, which is therefore a collective burden: ”It doesn’t seem possible to me,” said Aldo Spinelli, the president of the group that controls the GPT, “we are careful to follow every rule and we have investments in progress. The most I can think is that sometimes, as it happens, someone helped with the two trailers that remained behind, nothing more.” It was not possible to receive an immediate reply from COTUNAV.

(Credit: ShipSpotting)

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