Maritime News

ITF says abandoned crew like “modern day slavery”

21 July 2017

In a searing report on the conditions for crew who have been abandoned by their owners, the ITF accuses parts of the shipping industry of operating a culture “close to modern day slavery”.

The ITF reports three cases where ITF inspectors found that crew members on ships owned by the Turkish Voda Shipping company had been left stranded in UK ports without wages or essential provisions. The ships involved were the Reggae in Port of Leith, Scotland, the Tahsin in Sharpness, England and Seccadi in Ellesmere Port, England.

All three vessels, which are all Panama-flagged, were detained by the UK authorities in June for non-payment of wages and insufficient provisions. The Reggae was found to have 19 deficiencies with four grounds for detention, the Tahsin had 12 deficiencies with eight grounds for detention, and the Seccadi had 11deficiencies with six grounds for detention.

With the support of the ITF, the crew of the Reggae have now received all the wages owed to them and are to be replaced on board. ITF inspector Liam Wilson commented that: “Three months of the conditions they have been living and working under is enough for anyone.” 

ITF inspector Darren Proctor found that none of the five Turkish, two Indian and two Georgian crew members of the Tahsin had been paid for three months, and the Indian crew had not been paid at all since joining the ship in September and October 2016, and that they had had to pay to get their jobs, which were on an illegal contract. He also found that the crew had been drinking seawater as there had been no potable water on board for over 10 days, as well as out-of-date food and shoddy labour practices. The Indian crew had also had to pay for their flights to join the ship and thousands of dollars for “training” and “certificates”, which all breached the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

Following ITF intervention, seven of the Tahsin crew have now been repatriated and paid in full, including at the international minimum wage.

ITF inspector Tommy Molloy also reported that the crew of the Seccadi – who had been paid as little as USD0.85 an hour – have also now been repatriated after they had faced deportation if the ship had not made good the deficiencies for which it was detained.

ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel commented that: “The regulations exist to prevent this abuse from happening but some people seem to think it doesn’t apply to them.” He added that the ITF was closely monitoring the operation of the MLC ahead of a report to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO).

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