195 Code/143

The Norwegian Minister (Bachke) to the Secretary of State

Sir: With reference to previous correspondence, terminating by my note of March 14, 1934,34 concerning the proposed code of fair competition for the Shipping industry, I have the honor, under instructions from my Government, to submit to the consideration of the United States Government some further observations regarding the proposed code.

In the memorandum I handed to the Under Secretary of State on February 14, 1934, the Norwegian Government pointed out its main objections to the submitted code. I have now been instructed by my Government especially to call your kind attention to those provisions of the submitted code which relate to labor, only briefly mentioned in the memorandum of February 14, 1934:

A new draft of the proposed code contains the following provision:

Section 13. The provisions of this code shall not affect the internal discipline of foreign flag vessels, or the regulation of rights and duties [Page 707] of officers and crews of foreign flag vessels towards their vessels or among themselves, or their relations with their owners under contracts made without the United States.”

I presume that the correct interpretation of this provision would be that contractual relationship between the shipowner and the officers and crew of a foreign flag vessel would not be affected by the labor provisions of the code, and not subject to jurisdiction of the Divisional and National Shipping Labor Boards, when the contracts are made without the United States. Where, however, an officer or a member of the crew signs on in an American port, the provisions of the code and of the subdivision code are intended, it would seem, to apply to the contract, which would be subject to the jurisdiction of the above mentioned boards.

My Government has instructed me to inform you that it feels gravely concerned over the possible consequences of this provision, which would be that even when a Norwegian seaman signs on a Norwegian vessel in an American port, the labor provisions of the code would probably apply. In frequent cases a Norwegian shipowner engages seamen in Norway to be sent to the United States to complete the crew of a ship temporarily situated in an American port. As the actual signing on in such cases takes place in an American port, it might possibly be maintained that even such contracts were made in the United States, and a large number of contracts between Norwegian shipowners and their Norwegian crews initiated in Norway would thus come under the jurisdiction of the Divisional and National Shipping Labor Boards.

I am aware, of course, that the new draft only reflects the proposal of the American Shipping Industry and can not be regarded as having received the approval of the appropriate branch of the United States Government. I am also aware that it is stated in your note of February 19th35 that it is not intended that provisions regarding wages and working conditions aboard ship and employer relationship with such labor shall apply to officers and crews of foreign vessels, this statement not containing any such limitation with regard to the country where the contract is made, as contained in the new code draft. As opportunity to file objections to the code soon expires it would, however, seem that final approval of a code is near, and I therefore beg to apply again for your kind intermediary in order that the above observations may be brought to the attention of the appropriate authority.

Accept [etc.]

H. H. Bachke
  1. Not printed.
  2. See footnote 12, p. 690.