Rights Pamphlet - St. Vincent & Grenadines

Jun 1, 2004
Seafarers' Rights On St. Vincent
and the 
Grenadines Flag Ships 
CENTER FOR SEAFARERS' RIGHTS
The Seamen's Church Institute
241 Water Street
New York, New York 10038, USA
Telephone: (212) 349-9090 Fax: (212) 349-8342
E-mail: csr@seamenschurch.org
 
As a seafarer on a St. Vincent and the Grenadines flag ship, you have certain rights that are guaranteed by the maritime laws of the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

This booklet will inform you of some of your rights and help you to find assistance if your rights have been violated. The booklet is based on St. Vincent and the Grenadines Merchant Shipping Act of 1982 as amended. This law may have changed since the publication of this booklet. This is not a statement of law, but only a quick reference guide based on the maritime laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

References in parentheses are to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1986 and other laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Center for Seafarers’ rights is ready to assist all seafarers who think their rights to fair and decent working conditions have been denied.

We encourage questions, comments, and suggestions from readers of this booklet. Comments and contributions regarding the text are welcome so that corrections and improvements may be incorporated into future editions.

This booklet is available for free but may not be reprinted without permission. Copies of this booklet and other publications of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights are available at most seafarers’ centers and on our website:

http://www.seamenschurch.org

You may also write to us at:

Center for Seafarers' Rights
Seamen's Church Institute of
New York and New Jersey
241 Water Street
New York, NY 10038
USA
Telephone #: +(212) 349-9090
Fax #: +(212) 349-8342
E-mail: csr@seamenschurch.org

YOUR CONTRACT

The Master must make an agreement with every seafarer working aboard a St. Vincent and the Grenadines ship. The agreement must include the following information:

   1. the capacity in which the seafarer is employed;
   2. the seafarer’s wages;
   3. the duration of the contract;
   4. the number and description of crew;
   5. the conditions, wages, and remuneration, leave entitlement, compensation for overtime work, rest days and holidays, and overtime work; and
   6. regulations as to conduct on board. (M.S.A. Sec. 90)

The Master must post a legible copy of this agreement where all members of the crew can read it. (M.S.A. 91)

If the ship hires you at a Port outside St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Consular Officer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines must attest to your agreement. The Consular Officer must confirm that you signed the agreement in his presence. If no Consular Officer is available, the officer in charge of the Port must endorse your contract. In that case, the Master should forward a copy of the agreement to the Registrar or Deputy Commissioner of the Ship’s Registry of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (M.S.A. Sec. 93)

SAINT VINCENT SEAMAN’S IDENTITY CARD

Citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines belonging to a St. Vincent and the Grenadines ship or a foreign ship should apply for a Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Seaman’s Identity Card at the office of the Minister. (M.S.A. Sec. 148)

Citizens of other nations belonging to a Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ship should apply for a Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Seaman’s Identity Card to the Registrar or Commissioner. The registrar or Commissioner may, subject to the special instructions of the Minister, issue the Identity Card. (M.S.A. Sec. 148)

You should keep your card safe. It must be produced on demand to the authorities. If your card is lost, destroyed or defaced a fresh card may be issued by the registrar. (M.S.A. Sec. 149)

WAGES

The law entitles you to your wages from the time specified in your contract. If no time is specified, the law entitles you to wages from the time of embarkation. (M.S.A. Sec. 107(1))

Your wages are not liable to forfeiture. The Master cannot deprive you of wages because the ship is lost. You may not agree to forfeit your wages. (M.S.A. Sec. 107(2))

At least 24 hours before you leave the ship or 24 hours before payment or discharge the Master shall deliver an account of all of your wages and any deductions to you. (M.S.A. 102(1)

When your contract ends you will be paid in full for the time you served the ship. If your discharge occurs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines the Master must pay you through, or in the presence of, the Officer in charge of shipping in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (M.S.A. 101(1) and (2))

After payment of your wages, you and the master must sign a release of all claims against the ship regarding that engagement. You may exclude from the release any specific claim that you have against the Master or owner. A statement of the exclusion must be attached to the release when it is signed. (M.S.A. 103))

Your wages may be reduced if the Master disrates you. You must receive notice of the disrating from the Master and he must enter the disrating in the Log book before any reduction in pay can occur. (M.S.A. 105)

DEDUCTIONS

The Master may deduct fines from your wages as punishment for your misconduct. Misconduct includes:

   1. doing anything that immediately endangers the life or limb of a person belonging to or on board the ship;
   2. doing anything that results in the loss, destruction or serious damage of the ship;
   3. refusing to do any lawful act required to prevent the immediate loss, destruction, or serious damage of the ship;
   4. refusing to do any lawful act required to preserve any person on board or belonging to the ship from immediate danger to life or limb;
   5. deserting your ship;
   6. neglecting or refusing to join your ship without reasonable cause;
   7. being absent without leave at any time within 12 hours of the ship’s sailing from a Port or being absent without reason from your ship or from your duty without reason;
   8. quitting the ship without leave after arrival in a Port but before the ship is put in security;
   9. willful disobedience to any lawful command;
  10. willful neglect of your duties;
  11. assaulting the Master or any Mate or Certified Engineer of the ship;
  12. combining with any of the crew to disobey lawful commands, neglect duty, or impede the navigation of the ship or the progress of the voyage;
  13. willfully damaging the ship or any of its stores or cargo;
  14. being convicted of any act of smuggling whereby loss or damage is occasioned to the Master or owner of the ship. (M.S.A. 130, 131, 132)

The Master may not deduct fines from your wages or otherwise punish you more than once for any act of misconduct. (M.S.A. Sec. 106)

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION

The Master must provide you with food during the voyage, if you do not provide your own. If the master fails to provide adequate provisions and the court before which the case is tried finds the reason to be neglect or default of the master, the master is liable for compensation, and must pay a fine. (M.S.A. Sec. 113)

If your provisions are reduced or any part of the ship’s provisions go bad the law entitles you to compensation of not more than twenty-five percent (25%) of your daily wage. (M.S.A. Sec. 114)

INSPECTION

The master is responsible for ensuring the seaworthiness of the ship at the time the voyage begins and maintaining its seaworthiness throughout the voyage. (M.S.A. Sec. 202)

If the ship is unseaworthy because of a defect in the hull, equipment, or machinery or because of undermanning, overloading, or misloading it may be detained in the Port. (M.S.A. Sec. 203)

A surveyor of ships may inspect the ship to determine whether it complies with the rules regarding safety. Where the ship does not comply with the rules, the surveyor shall give notice to the master or owner stating in what respect it does not comply and what must be done to rectify the situation. The surveyor shall also inform the Port Officer of the deficiency. The Port Officer will detain the ship until the surveyor certifies that the situation has been rectified. (M.S.A. Sec. 184)

ILLNESS AND INJURY

The Master is responsible for keeping an adequate supply of medicines and other medical stores on board the ship. Every ship with more than 100 persons, or carrying more than 12 passengers, must have on board a medical practitioner. (M.S.A. Sec. 116(1) and (2))

The owner of the ship must provide assistance to you if you become ill or injured in service of the ship. If you become ill or injured in the course of your duties the owner pays for the necessary medical and surgical assistance, including the cost of medicines. The owner also pays for your maintenance during the period of treatment and for transportation incurred for returning you to a proper Port. (M.S.A. Sec. 120(1))

If you are unable to proceed on the voyage due to illness, the law entitles you to full wages for a period of 87 days from the date of termination. However, if the illness is your responsibility or you contracted a disease before you sailed the Master may deny all or part of your wages, as the Master considers equitable. (M.S.A. Sec. 109)

The owner of a ship may not deduct any of these expenses from your wages unless it is duly proved that the illness arose out of your own willful misbehavior or that you contracted it before embarkation. (M.S.A. Secs. 120, 121)

TERMINATION AND DISCHARGE

If you must be discharged or your services terminated in a Port in St. Vincent and the Grenadines the discharge or termination should take place in the presence of the Shipping Master. (M.S.A. Sec. 94)

Ordinarily, the Master shall not discharge you at any place outside St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If it is necessary to discharge you while outside St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Master must obtain your signature on the contract as evidence of the termination. A Consular Officer of your home country must attest to the termination. If a Consular Officer of your home country is not available, an officer of the Port where you are discharged may attest to your signature. (M.S.A. Sec. 96)

When you are dismissed or discharged the Master must give you a Certificate of Discharge that specifies:

   1. the period of your service
   2. the time and place of your discharge

Upon termination your Certificate of Competency should be returned and you should acknowledge its receipt. (M.S.A. Sec. 95)

When your ship ceases to be registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines you are discharged. You may consent in writing to continue employment on that ship. An Authorized Officer of the Port must verify your consent. (M.S.A. Sec. 100)

If the Master improperly discharges you before the voyage begins or before you earn one month’s wages, either discharging you not by your request or for a reason that is not your fault, the Master or owner must pay you:

   1. any wages you earned
   2. compensation for damage caused by the discharge if you did not request it. This compensation may not exceed normal wages for one month. (M.S.A. Sec. 111)

 

REPATRIATION

If you are discharged outside St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you did not request it the Master must pay the reasonable costs for you to return either to the place where you were hired or to your homeland. You may choose where you want to be sent. (M.S.A. Sec. 96(2))

When your termination results from causes beyond your control the Master must pay the reasonable cost of maintenance and transportation to enable you to return to the place where you were hired. (M.S.A. Sec. 110)

DISTRESS OR DEATH

You may not be forced ashore by any member of the crew. (M.S.A. Sec. 127)

You may not be left behind except if you are discharged or the Master believes that you are unable to proceed to sea, have deserted, or disappeared. The Master must note why you were left behind on the crew agreement. (M.S.A. Sec. 122)

If you are left behind your personal effects and unpaid wages shall be handled as follows:

   1. The Master shall enter a statement of all your property left on board and your wages due at the time you were left behind in the Log Book.
   2. The Master shall, if a Consular Officer of your country is available at the port where the voyage terminates, give that officer any property you left on board, and an account of your wages due at the time you were left behind. He shall pay the Consular Officer any wages you are due, less any lawful deductions. Any such deduction shall be allowed only if it is included in the account as a claim and verified by an official entry in the log book duly made and attested. (M.S.A. Sec. 119)

If you die in the service of your ship or because of an injury you suffered in service of your ship the owner shall defray the costs of your burial. (M.S.A. 120(2))

In the event of your death your personal effects, including any wages or cash, shall be dealt with as follows:

   1. The Master shall take charge of all personal effects on board.
   2. The Master shall record the amount of cash and all personal effects in the Log Book along with a statement of wages due to you and any deductions from those wages.
   3. The Master shall pay and deliver all of your property and wages to the Consular Officer of your home country as soon as possible. (M.S.A. Sec. 118)

 

SHIPWRECK

If your ship sinks and your employment is terminated before the period of your contract the law entitles you to full wages for a period of one month. (M.S.A. Sec. 108)

When rescuers deposit you at a port following the loss of your ship, the Consular Officer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will provide for your return to a proper port of return. The Consular Officer will also provide clothing and maintenance until you depart for that port and for repayment of expenses incurred in your conveyance and maintenance while conveyed. (M.S.A. Sec. 125)

WHERE TO GET HELP

Whenever there is a problem, seafarers may contact either of the following to present any claim they may have:

    * any union to which you belong; or

    * The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs
      St. Vincent and The Grenadines
      74 BD D’Italie E/F
      MC 98000 Monaco
      tel: 377 93104450

    * The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs
      St. Vincent and The Grenadines
      8 Ave Frontenex
      CH 1207 Geneva
      Telephone #: 4122 7076300

Finally, if you have a question about your rights, or any problem, you may contact:

Center for Seafarers' Rights
Seamen's Church Institute of
New York and New Jersey
241 Water Street
New York, NY 10038
USA
Telephone #: +(212) 349-9090
Fax #: +(212) 349-8342
E-mail: csr@seamenschurch.org