Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy Ending for Crew of Indian Offshore Supply Vessel Stranded in UK

Indian Sailors Homeward Bound
Shipping News Feature
UK – INDIA – We are informed by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that justice has finally been served in the case of the Malaviya Twenty, one of the two Indian owned and flagged offshore supply vessels that were effectively abandoned by their owners after they were detained in Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth, and which we touched upon in our story of November 2016. It was ITF inspections which led to the discovery that there were serious problems with the ships and the fact that the crews had not been paid.

This unfortunate practice of simply deserting crew and vessel when problems arise in foreign waters brings real tragedy to those innocents caught up in the cases. Both the ITF and maritime unions Nautilus and the RMT lobbied on behalf of the stranded men and ITF inspector Paul Keenan recounted what led to this particular unfortunate situation and explained how the matter has now been resolved, saying:

“The ship arrived in Great Yarmouth on June 2016. It was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency primarily because of owed wages. The company initially paid some of the owed money and some of the crew were repatriated. Then nothing. So in December we arrested the vessel on the crew’s behalf. The bank which owned the ship contacted us and sent a representative over to meet with the ITF in January. They agreed to pay all owed wages to the crew currently on the vessel and those who had left earlier. “The bulk of the wages were paid by bank transfer, and the rest was paid in cash on board the vessel last Friday. In all $689,679.00 was paid to a total of 33 crew who were owed wages dating back to October 2015. Thanks to their determination, the support of the local community and port chaplain, organisations such as the MCA, and the ITF itself, the men have finally achieved justice. In the time when they were abandoned some had taken loans out so that their families could survive. One had taken five loans out at 16% interest which he managed to pay off when he got his wages.

”One seafarer, whose son had to live with neighbours because the money lenders kept coming to the house for their money, has now paid off the loans and his son has moved back in. Another crew member, who found it difficult to speak to his son because he was so upset every time as he had to lie to him, telling him he would be home soon, told him last week he would be home this week. He was overcome with joy.

”He had also sponsored three children in his village to go to school, and had had to stop this when he didn’t get paid. He has already started to sponsor them again and they are now back at school. It seems life is getting back to normal for them. They all said that what they need now is to spend some time will family and friends before they think about going back to sea.”

So, a resolution for one unfortunate crew, but meanwhile the crew of the detained sister ship the Malaviya Seven remain stranded in Aberdeen. The ITF says it is moving to arrest the vessel on the crew’s behalf in this case once again in an attempt to secure for them the wages and tickets home to which they too are entitled.

Photo: The smiles say it all. The crew of the Malaviya Twenty waiting to board the minibuses taking them to Heathrow and home. Photo Credit: Maurice Gray.