All the ports in Finland suspended operation on Wednesday. More than 2,000 stevedores announced a one-day strike because Jarmo Pekkarinen, a representative of the stevedores at the Tornio port, received a threat from a Russian shipping company. Stevedores at the port had been refusing to unload the company’s ship for a long time, the Russian sailors’ trade union reports.
The assistant coordinator of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Finland, Jan Orn, confirmed this information to the trade union. He also said that the incident in question involved the Rusich-5 vessel, which belongs to the North-Western Shipping Company.
The vessel entered the port of Tornio on May 31. Local stevedores refused to unload the Russian vessel in protest against the actions of the North-Western Shipping Company: the stevedores believe that the motor ship’s crewmembers are in slave-like conditions because they receive starvation wages. The conflict in the port of Tornio has lasted 12 days.
In solidarity, workers throughout Finland joined the Tornio port’s stevedores on Wednesday.
"Insinuations linking the conflict to sanctions against Russia have appeared in comments to the information, but this is absolutely false,” said ITF Coordinator in Russia Sergei Fishov. “I want to emphasize that the stevedores’ strike involves a specific company – the North-Western Shipping Company – and that its goal is to achieve decent working conditions for Russians."
Maritime trade unions have repeatedly warned the North-Western Shipping Company to bring the working and living conditions of the crewmembers on board its vessels in accordance with international standards. This was the case in Poland, Israel, Belgium, and seven times in Finland. In addition, it has been recommended repeatedly that the North-Western Shipping Company conclude a collective agreement with a trade union that is a member of the ITF. However, the company has ignored all appeals.
"If substandard working conditions are found on any vessel, regardless of the flag and nationality of its crewmembers, what happened to the Rusich-5 vessel will happen in Scandinavian countries,” added Fishov.