SUR History

Seafarers’ Union of Russia is Twenty!

On the 25th of November 1991, on the premises of the Ministry of Merchant Marine in Moscow, a union constituent conference was held. Representatives of seafarers working at the largest shipping companies of the country the Seafarers’ Union of Russia. As luck would have it, in a fortnight, in BelovezhskayaPushcha (Belavezha Forest) the leaders of three USSR republics (Belarus, Russia and Ukraine) signed an agreement on establishment of Commonwealth of Independent States. Thus, the events, which opened a new page in the history of both Russia and of the first new, so-called “independent” unions, so to say, met in time and space.

There were certain preconditions for SUR establishment:

In 1989, the 19th conference of the Baltic Shipping Company seafarers was held in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg). A decision to establish “Union of Seafarers of Russia” within the framework of the Federation of Water Transport Workers’ Independent Unions (FNPRVT).

In 1990, seafarers of Novorossiysk, who were strongly displeased with discriminatory remuneration of labour under Russian flag, decided to form a “Seamen’s Unions Establishment Fund”. The group was led by a 3rd Engineer of the m/v “Maykop” from Novorossiysk Shipping Company, Mr. Vladimir Shirochenkov.

On May 29th 1991, during the 13th conference of the Novorossiysk Shipping Company, a new union committee was elected, and an action group of “Seamen’s Unions Establishment Fund” became a part of it.

On May 15th 1990, the local committee of the Murmansk Shipping Company called a two-hour warning strike. The seafarers demanded a fair remuneration for working in the Arctic.

In May 1990, chairmen of local committees of maritime shipping companies adopted a joint declaration on establishment of “Association of USSR Seafarers”.

On March 19th 1991, a constituent congress of “USSR Inter-republic union of seafarers” was held. The very first resolution accepted on the first congress was called “Replacement of Vnesheconombank coupons with freely convertible currency for seafarers’ remuneration”.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union a decision was made to establish the Seafarers’ Union of Russia. The constituent conference was held on November 25, 1991. The SUR became a legal successor to the “USSR Inter-republic union of seafarers”. The first version of the SUR Constitution was adopted at the conference. Mr. Victor Nekrasov became the first SUR chairman (president).

Nowadays SUR organizes about 70,000 seafarers. Since 1993 the SUR is an affiliated member of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. The SUR has its offices in all maritime regions of Russia. Five ITF inspectors work in the organization. The SUR has a centralized legal service. More than 400 vessels are covered by collective agreements approved by the ITF topday.


  1. 1991 – 1994 – Mr. Victor Nekrasov
  2. 1994 – 1999 – Mr. Vladimir Shirochenkov
  3. 1999 – 2011 – Mr. Igor Pavlov
  4. 2011 – Mr. YurySukhorukov