Finns still boycott Estonian ships

  • 1999-02-25
TALLINN (BNS) - The Estonian Shipping Company says a Helsinki district court violated European Union regulations when it ruled not to suspend a boycott against the Estonian company's ships Feb. 19.

Although Estonia's ships sail under the Estonian flag, the Finnish seamen's union has the right to keep an eye on the terms of labor contracts signed with Estonian sailors, the Helsinki court ruled.

The Finnish seamen's trade union demanded the Estonian Shipping Company should raise the pay of the crew of its cargo ships Rakvere and Calibur to the same level with Finnish seamen and started a port boycott last year to press for its demand.

"We will appeal against the district court decision to Finland's Supreme Court," said Viktor Palmet, Estonian Shipping company's development director.

"The fact that the Helsinki court found there are no sufficient grounds to consider the Finnish trade unions' boycott against our ships to be illegal testifies to imperfection of Finnish law and its contradiction with EU regulations," he said.

The Estonian Shipping Company continues to hold the view that a Finnish trade union has no grounds whatsoever to demand similar pay conditions with those of Finnish seamen from a ship sailing under another country's flag.

"We hope for a precedent from Finland's Supreme Court to show that Finnish law is in keeping with EU legal sources and competition terms. We know that the conflict is not welcomed on the other side and a large part of the Finnish public does not support the boycott," Palmet said.

Palmet added that parallel to the appeal, the Estonian company is preparing to file an application for damages against the Finnish seamen's trade union and is currently considering whether it should file the application with an Estonian or Finnish court.

The damage of about 20 million kroons ($1.43 million) was caused by withdrawal of two ships from the Tallinn-Helsinki-Aarhus line and includes the cost of restarting operation after the boycott.