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  • Exploited Mariners

    A story from the International Transport Workers website:-

    A Panamanian flagged vessel has been detained by the UK maritime authorities after an inspection revealed that conditions on board were substandard. It was later discovered that the crew had not been paid.

    The Most Sky, owned by Er-Em Shipping and Trading of Istanbul, Turkey, was held in Birkenhead by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency after the alarm was raised by the pilot. The pilot expressed concerns not only about the condition of the vessel, but also the fact that nobody on board could communicate in English.

    ITF inspector Tommy Molloy is currently representing the interests of the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish crew of the vessel. Molloy had himself been alerted to the condition of the ship through ITF colleagues in Turkey; they also reported that the company had a history of non-payment of wages.

    An inspection revealed that there was no fresh fruit, vegetables or bread on board; the shower and toilet facilities were appalling and there was no heating. Crewmembers pooled their limited resources to buy bread from a local shop and put together makeshift heating, for example, by rigging a security light and using an old kebab grill. A maritime solicitor has helped the crew to secure the arrest of the vessel in a bid to win back wages owed to them as well as repatriation costs. There is also a separate claim against the vessel as a result of salt water damage to the steel cargo.

    Molloy commented: “The conditions on board this vessel are among the worst we have seen. The crew has to continue living in these appalling conditions while they wait for their wages to be paid and to be repatriated. The vessel is only four years old but it looks about 20. It appears that nothing has been spent on maintenance. It is difficult to guess how long the vessel might remain here, but it won't leave until all deficiencies have been put right and all claims satisfied.”

  • #2
    Worsening situation.

    Since I wrote two years ago, the problem of unpaid seamen has worsened. Global capitalism in the form of merchant shipping, is made unnecessarily complex by the vessel being owned by one company, chartered to another company, and being managed by yet another company, usually with different flags involved each time. The ownership of the cargoes, their buyers /sellers and harbor charge contractual conditions further complicates these issues.

    Much of the above is done to avoid taxes and minimize legal compliance. However, when something within the above goes wrong, the hapless seaman (particularly non officer grade) can find themselves in a foreign port in a ship being held resulting from a contractual dispute resulting from a failure of one of the concerned parties. Their food often runs out and the seamen are not paid. Usually, their passports are held by the captain so they cannot abandon the ship. In any event if they do so they are guilty of breach of contract and will forfeit everything legally, and may render themselves an illegal immigrant.

    Ukrainians, Russians and Asian seamen are those often caught up in this misery and the complexity of this international quagmire of legality can be too great for an individual trade union to cope with. Similarly, the ability of an individual seamen to fight for his rights in various courts is an impossibility.

    I know that most readers will have little personal interest in this matter but if they do have a relative or friend that is owed money resulting from non payment of wages whilst a seaman I am attaching the internet address of an organization who may be able to help.
    Helping seamen and sea farers recover unpaid wages when the ITF can't help you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Exploitation of merchant seamen continues

      Many Ukrainian and Russian men, along with other Eastern Europeans take jobs in freight or passenger carrying ships, because coming from a lower wage earning economy they are prepared to work under conditions that Western European seamen will no longer endure. The effect upon family life resulting from long periods at sea, for deteriorating wages and conditions make these jobs less worthwhile for many except the more needy men.

      However, even many Eastern European seamen are finding the conditions unrewarding, with disputes over pay and pay stoppages during idle periods when a freighter is waiting for a cargo to be loaded. The international nature of this work plus the complexity and lack of appropriate legislation offer little or no protection.
      Please see this article:Seafarers still trail behind without proper rights bill / Letters / Home - Morning Star.

      Comment


      • #4
        The internationalism" of shipping that permits exploitation

        As I have stated in the previous posts of this thread, the international aspect of maritime operations, were ships are owned by a company of one country, but operates under the flag of another country, and is crewed by seaman of various countries who work for a contracted company from yet another country, the whole prospect of law and tax compliance among other legal requirements is obscured.

        It means that the seaman have generally very poor conditions of service and are vulnerable to not being paid correct wages. I am particular surprised however to learn of this situation existing on a ferry boat service operating within the European Union and have to question why such labour infringements are possible, but then I shouldn't be surprised by yet more evidence of EU incompetency. Following is an extract from a Transport Union's news item:

        A long running campaign against social dumping in the UK shipping industry will return to the south coast this week with a major protest targeting ferry-operator Condor in Portsmouth tomorrow.

        The protest, supported by both RMT and the International Transport Federation, will take place at 16.00 on Tuesday 18th February at Portsmouth Commercial Freight Gate, Prospect Road, Portsmouth, PO1.

        The RMT campaign to expose the scandal on Condor Ferries is specifically over the 'social dumping' of cheap, non-EU labour which makes a complete mockery of both UK and EU employment rights. Condor Ferries are able to duck around rules and regulations that are supposed to stop exploitation and as a result pay their seagoing staff £2.35 per hour well below the UK minimum wage. Condor operates a ferry service between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands.

        RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

        “The super-exploitation of foreign nationals in the British shipping industry is a massive scandal that the political elite want to keep quiet. That’s no surprise as it’s their wealthy mates running the shipping companies who benefit from this scam that dodges normal employment regulations while the European Union refuses to lift a finger.

        “Social dumping is a mechanism seized on by some of the most rotten employers in the book to dry and batter down wages and conditions. RMT members and their supporters have the full support of the union for this weeks’ protest in Portsmouth as the union, alongside our colleagues in the ITF, steps up the fight against Condor Ferries and the ships of shame.”

        RMT National Secretary Steve Todd said:

        “The fight to stop the scandal of social dumping remains a national priority for RMT and we will continue to step up the campaign to turn the spotlight on the shameful practices that this ConDem government legitamises in the British shipping industry with the collusion of the EU.”

        Comment


        • #5
          Not just merchant seaman but other crew members at risk

          I have previously revealed here how merchant seaman have little employment protection arising from the international nature of maritime operations where ships owned by one company are chartered to another operating under a flag of convenience.

          It is said that in the last decade several crew members have gone missing whilst at sea in international waters and therefore no competent authority has been liable to investigate this occurrence. Cruise ship personnel are particularly at risk as marine staff unions have said that the ship owners are keen to suppress any fuss at it's bad for publicity.

          Rebecca Coriam a British citizen disappeared from the cruise ship Disney Wonder off the Pacific coast of Mexico on the morning of 22 March 2011. It has been suggested that she was believed to have become upset by a romantic affair to assist the theory that she may have jumped off the ship. However, the woman's family have refused to accept this and other theories and have asked the United States marine authorities to investigate further.

          Mystery of British woman who vanished at sea - BBC News

          Comment


          • #6
            Ukrainian and other seaman arrested in India

            By Sandhya Ravishankar


            CHENNAI, India, Jan 11 (Reuters) – An Indian court on Monday sentenced crew members of a private American ship, including 25 foreigners, to five years in prison for illegal possession of arms in Indian waters in a verdict that could spark diplomatic tension.

            The crew, which included foreign nationals from Ukraine, Estonia and six British former soldiers, was arrested from the ‘Seaman Guard Ohio‘ in 2013 after they failed to produce papers authorising them to carry weapons in India’s territorial waters. Ten Indians were also arrested.

            The court in India’s southern city of Tuticorin, in Tamil Nadu state, found the crew guilty of violating Indian laws by possessing prohibited arms. It also fined each crew member 3,000 rupees ($45).

            “This judgment is totally unfair and a great injustice to the accused,” Arumugaram Ravipandian, a lawyer representing all 35 crew members, told Reuters.

            Ravipandian said his clients would seek bail and challenge the verdict in a higher court.

            The crew, that spent nine months in prison after the incident, has been out on bail but not allowed to leave India since 2013.

            Paul Towers, a former British soldier among those convicted, said the weapons on board their ship were properly registered.

            “We are speaking to our consulate … this is not justice,” said Towers.

            The British High Commission in New Delhi said it was providing consular assistance but could not interfere in another country’s judicial process.

            “Our staff in India and the UK have been in close contact with all six men since their arrest to provide support to them and their families, including attending court,” it said in a statement.

            “Ministers have also raised this case at the highest levels, pressing for delays to be resolved.”

            No comment was immediately available from the Ukrainian and Estonian embassies.

            The southern tip of India is close to major trade routes and cargo ships often travel with armed guards to deter pirates.

            The ship was operated by a U.S. maritime security firm and the incident highlighted the loosely regulated practice of placing guards on ships for protection against pirate attacks.

            Action by the Indian authorities has led to diplomatic rows in similar cases. Relations between India and Italy soured after a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines allegedly killed two Indian fishermen mistakenly believed to be pirates. (Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel)


            Update

            On the 11th of January 2016 our hearts sank, our brothers, husbands, Sons, and fathers had been given a Guilty verdict and sentence to 5 years rigorous imprisonment. Not one of us or the people involved could have saw this verdict coming. All the evidence to prove their innocence was submitted in court, the trial had gone in their favour from day one, and most importantly they were innocent! The devastation and anguish this has caused us, the families is huge. It has left us crushed and with little hope. We know have no communication with the men and We don’t know who or where to turn to. This is why we are asking you to sign our petition, to Free our men and end this miscarriage of justice.

            We understand fully that one country cannot intervene in another’s judicial process, But when innocent men are being prosecuted for a crime they have not committed, then they should have a obligation to protect the human rights and freedom of these men and have them released and brought home. These men devoted their lives protecting others. They fought for the British government now the British government must fight for them.

            https://www.justgiving.com/freesgo6

            Comment


            • #7
              Ukrainian and other seaman arrested in India

              By Sandhya Ravishankar


              CHENNAI, India, Jan 11 (Reuters) – An Indian court on Monday sentenced crew members of a private American ship, including 25 foreigners, to five years in prison for illegal possession of arms in Indian waters in a verdict that could spark diplomatic tension.

              The crew, which included foreign nationals from Ukraine, Estonia and six British former soldiers, was arrested from the ‘Seaman Guard Ohio‘ in 2013 after they failed to produce papers authorising them to carry weapons in India’s territorial waters. Ten Indians were also arrested.

              The court in India’s southern city of Tuticorin, in Tamil Nadu state, found the crew guilty of violating Indian laws by possessing prohibited arms. It also fined each crew member 3,000 rupees ($45).

              “This judgment is totally unfair and a great injustice to the accused,” Arumugaram Ravipandian, a lawyer representing all 35 crew members, told Reuters.

              Ravipandian said his clients would seek bail and challenge the verdict in a higher court.

              The crew, that spent nine months in prison after the incident, has been out on bail but not allowed to leave India since 2013.

              Paul Towers, a former British soldier among those convicted, said the weapons on board their ship were properly registered.

              “We are speaking to our consulate … this is not justice,” said Towers.

              The British High Commission in New Delhi said it was providing consular assistance but could not interfere in another country’s judicial process.

              “Our staff in India and the UK have been in close contact with all six men since their arrest to provide support to them and their families, including attending court,” it said in a statement.

              “Ministers have also raised this case at the highest levels, pressing for delays to be resolved.”

              No comment was immediately available from the Ukrainian and Estonian embassies.

              The southern tip of India is close to major trade routes and cargo ships often travel with armed guards to deter pirates.

              The ship was operated by a U.S. maritime security firm and the incident highlighted the loosely regulated practice of placing guards on ships for protection against pirate attacks.

              Action by the Indian authorities has led to diplomatic rows in similar cases. Relations between India and Italy soured after a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines allegedly killed two Indian fishermen mistakenly believed to be pirates. (Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel)


              Update

              On the 11th of January 2016 our hearts sank, our brothers, husbands, Sons, and fathers had been given a Guilty verdict and sentence to 5 years rigorous imprisonment. Not one of us or the people involved could have saw this verdict coming. All the evidence to prove their innocence was submitted in court, the trial had gone in their favour from day one, and most importantly they were innocent! The devastation and anguish this has caused us, the families is huge. It has left us crushed and with little hope. We know have no communication with the men and We don’t know who or where to turn to. This is why we are asking you to sign our petition, to Free our men and end this miscarriage of justice.

              We understand fully that one country cannot intervene in another’s judicial process, But when innocent men are being prosecuted for a crime they have not committed, then they should have a obligation to protect the human rights and freedom of these men and have them released and brought home. These men devoted their lives protecting others. They fought for the British government now the British government must fight for them.

              https://www.justgiving.com/freesgo6

              Comment


              • #8
                The jailed mariners saga continues

                government-abandoned-and-betrayed-six-former http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/07/uk- -soldiers-jailed-in-india?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Merchant freight carrier in crisis

                  Not only are the crews of merchant and passenger ships without good legal protection due to the multi-national operating environment but the users of marine freight services can also be left in limbo when things go wrong. Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd vessels have been seized at Chinese ports in the wake of the South Korean firm's collapse, 10 Hanjin vessels in China have been either seized or were expected to seized by charterers, port authorities or other parties. That adds to one other ship seized in Singapore by a creditor. The owners of the cargoes are left wondering when and how their goods can be discharged so that payment for them can be paid.

                  The cost of shipping a 40-foot container on the Busan-Los Angeles route has jumped about 55 percent, from $1,100 to around $1,700, according to South Korea-based freight forwarder Pantos Logistics. Rates between South Korea and the U.S. east coast via Panama have risen about 50 percent to $2,400, it added.
                  More Hanjin ships seized, as freight rates surge and cargo owners fret | Reuters

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Saga of detained mariners in India continues

                    One of six British former soldiers jailed in India has appealed to the UK Government to secure their release, describing the ordeal as "mental torture".

                    One of six British soldiers jailed in India for weapons charges on anti-piracy mission appeals for UK government to secure release

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Over two hundred Ukrainian sailors are now held in custody in Greece and Italy. State Secretary for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Andriy Zayets said that at a briefing on Tuesday. As of June, there were 151 Ukrainian sailors in Greece, 98 of them were detained for transporting illegal migrants.

                      https://112.international/politics/s...try-30938.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Tanker missing in Gulf of Guinea found

                        A tanker with 19 Georgian and Russian sailors that went missing for over a week in the Gulf of Guinea has been found off the coast of Congo, Tbilisi said on Friday, although the reason for its disappearance remained unclear.

                        https://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/top...id=mailsignout

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