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Seafarers' cries for help over dangers of lashing at sea attracts media spotlight

05 Apr 2020
Industry mover and shaker Container News has exposed unsafe lashing practices endangering seafarers’ lives.

The feature 'ITF claims shipping lines are ignoring lashing rules' graphically highlights the danger of seafarers forced to lash mountains of containers on ships decks, while vessels are underway –  even at night, often without sleep.
 
The article by Nick Savvides, draws on evidence and documentation provided by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), including the plea for help.  
 
The article features emails from a Borchard Line seafarer to the ITF, pleading for assistance.
 
“I almost fell,” wrote one seafarer on board. “Everything is worst right now, not a Healthy vessel for us and a dangerous ship… We want to refuse… ITF please save Us, You are Our Only Chance and Only hope.”
 
The call for help came before a dramatic collapse of a container stack on the Judith Borchard at sea in November last year.
 
Another seafarer on board North Sea Container Line’s NCL Averoy also said that crew were asked to work 180 hours or more overtime.
 
“Instead of resting, we do lashing and unlashing even (if) we don’t have sleep,” he wrote, naming a dozen European ports.
  
ITF Canada coordinator Peter Lahay said he felt compelled to write to Container News declaring, “We get dozens of letters from crew and their family complaining of fatigue and unsafe practices, but they cannot stand up and complain because they know they will be fired.”
 
The in-depth Container News feature also covered the lashing deaths of Ravindu Lakmal Pieris Telge, aboard the Maersk Patras on the St Lawrence River, Montreal, last year and seafarer Dennis Gomez Regana, in Dublin, aboard the Francop in November 2017.
 
It highlights how major container ship operators flout the regulations to cut costs.
 
Container News contacted both Borchard Lines and Montreal ports. Both declined to comment.
 
Maersk provided a contradictory statement implying sometimes ports could not provide dock workers to do the job.
 
Dock workers are available to lash in Montreal and are fighting to reclaim the work which the ITF argues is rightfully theirs. However, Canadian authorities previously told media the port had exemption to allow ships’ crew to lash on the river.
 
The feature also cites the ITF Dockers’ Clause agreed by the major lines, which came into force on 1 January 2020.

Comment

kettels moller
1 month 3 weeks ago

last year 2019 I'm aslo a victim of this lashing un-lashing,we refuse to do the that job because that stevedoring job.until they fired me .I serve the company for 13 years.

Linh
1 month 3 weeks ago

tell me the name of that company. and btw what are u doing for living? have u changed your job

Jerome fortalisa
1 month 3 weeks ago

And also the flug in and unflug of refer now deck hands make work of this not they stevedors....and also no extra payment of the crew....

Joe
1 month 3 weeks ago

I am a stevedore from a dock I will not mention and we do all our lashing and unlashing, unless it’s unsafe to the worker ie. Rusted gear, steps and poles. A ship worker just painting over rust doesn’t help the rust it just covers it up for someone to get hurt. We had a worker the other night doing a 40 foot lashing bar and went to step on the step that helps and before he did he put some pressure on it and it snapped and went into the ocean. If he woulda went full weight with a bar who knows what or where he would be. There’s 2 sides to every story. If the ship mates maintained the ship up to code as they are supposed to and keep gear in good condition then the stevedores at the ports will have no problem lashing anything. It’s when things are rusted and busted and something from a horror movie is when the stevedore has the right to refuse the work. If the ship workers want to risk themselves to do it then so be it. But maybe fixing things properly instead of just painting over mistakes should be the first start

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Pedro
1 month 3 weeks ago

I agree totally I’m a lasher in the port of New York and we have the same problem shipmates don’t do any maintenance to the gear. He have lashers carrying wd40 or bottles of diesel to spray turnbuckles because of lack of grease.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tommy
4 weeks ago

When I was a seafarer on UK flagged ships some years ago 10 deck crew would be common. We'd have a Bosun, a Lampy, 5 AB's, 2 Ordinary Seamen and a Deck Boy. We had the manpower, therefore the hours to undertake maintenance correctly and the company provided the right gear. When you require someone to work up to 180 hours OVERTIME per month on top of their normal hours doing their own job as well as the jobs of other workers you're asking for trouble. I know of a Filipino AB who was being disciplined by his Russian Captain last year because he had just painted over moving parts, handles, covers etc. He had only recently joined this company from one he had been with for years. He had always been made to do it the way he did it, as fast and as cheaply as possible and he was shocked at his new Captain's reaction. His new company had a different culture. Of course seafarers should not paint over rust and endanger others including dockers. But a lack of or sloppy maintenance should not always be laid at their door. They cause a stink - even the smallest one - and they lose their livelihoods. Don't ignore the third side to the story - ship operators often spend as little as possible on the asset, especially once they start to get older and rustier.

AB OF JUDITH BORCHARD
1 month 3 weeks ago

I am one of the crew of BORCHARD... Yes still us doing the lashing/unlashing.. A lot of nearmiss already encountered by us... Hope action will be done by port authorities while no lost of life yet happened

paul
1 month 3 weeks ago

it is up to the chief mate to make sure the lashing is done properly be four the ship leaves the dock he can depict the mate on watch to get and check the lashing be for the ship leaves the dock if some lashing id not finished he can request the long Shoreman to do it correctly

USC Crew
1 month 1 week ago

Onboard M/V Elbsailor,we've been forced to do lashing and stevedoring on shore. Happening for months even we tried to refuse. The crew seeks your help.