Sailors' trade unions prepare to boycott

  • 2004-10-27
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - Finnish and German sailor trade unions said they might boycott Estonian ships again if Eesti Merelaevandus (Estonian Ship-ping Company) didn't raise employee pay by more than 50 percent, while the unions are demanding a pay raise of 30 percent.

The Estonian Shipping Company's legal director, Indra Kaunis, told the Baltic News Service, "We've already met one of the unions' demands and raised wages by 37 percent, but they now claim the pay agreement is valid only until the end of this year and insist on another rise in the new year."

According to Kaunis, German and Finnish unions base their demands on the Athens agreement, which says that the crew pay of ships sailing between foreign ports must be in line with the country holding a higher wage level.

"If we complied with their demands, it would mean additional expenses of around 1.5 million kroons (95,850 euros) per ship in six months," Kaunis said. "We cannot meet such demands, because it would make us operate at a loss, which means that Eesti Merelaevandus would either have to withdraw from the Baltic Sea altogether or sell its ships." The shipping company said it would likely raise the issue in Brussels.

Estonian ships experienced a similar boycott in 1998, when Finnish and Danish workers refused to serve them due to unfair competition arising from cheap labor.