ITF fighting to secure payment for Malaviya PSVs crews

Weeks after Gol Offshore-owned Malaviya Seven offshore support vessel was detained in Aberdeen over slave-like conditions, a similar thing happened in Great Yarmouth.

Namely the Malaviya Twenty offshore support vessel, owned by the same Indian Company, has been detained in Great Yarmouth after deficiencies were discovered.

The vessel did not have the manning specified by minimum safe manning rule, workers hadn’t been paid, medical certificates had expired, and the seafarers employment agreement was invalid.

According to International Transport Workers’ Federation, the crews of the two Indian-owned and -flagged vessels have been effectively abandoned by their owners after they were held in Aberdeen, Scotland, and Great Yarmouth, England.

To remind, a routine ITF inspection in Aberdeen in June revealed large amounts of wages owing on the Malaviya Seven. Fifteen crew members had not been paid for at least four months. A follow-up inspection of sister ship, the Malaviya Twenty in Great Yarmouth found the same. In total, more than $250,000 was owed to current and former crew members, who are all from India.

At the time, the RMT union slammed what it described as a “blatant example of modern day slavery.

ITF UK and Ireland coordinator Ken Fleming made ready to arrest the ships on the crews’ behalf, and the ITF worked with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency to prevent both vessels from sailing until the outstanding wages were paid and other grounds for detention rectified. Meanwhile ITF inspectors have worked to secure a fair deal for the ships’ crews. Most have now received what they are owed, but until they are all reimbursed the federation will not relax its efforts on their behalf, and will press for the ships to be held in place, ITF said on Thursday.

Paul Keenan, ITF inspector, is assisting the crew in Great Yarmouth. This is his latest news: “Last Friday the 12 remaining crew on board were paid their salaries up to end of July. Seven of the crew were also relieved last Friday when new crew joined the vessel.  Another crew member will be repatriated this week. The total wages recovered so far are $180,000.”

“However,” he continued, “there are still three crew members who were repatriated for family/medical reasons and haven’t received their money – around USD25,000. The ship will remain detained until those three crew members have been paid. In addition the previous crew, most of who left last December, are still owed USD172,000, and we continue to fight for justice for them.”

Paid, but concerns remain

From Aberdeen, ITF inspector Liam Wilson reported: “I can confirm that the crew were paid all owed wages up to the end of July, and the MCA has released the vessel. However, we have real concerns about whether the replacement crew are genuinely being paid, and the vessel remains in port.”

ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith commented: “These two cases have revealed the ugly underbelly of the offshore shipping sector: in particular how a company has tried to ride out the downturn in rates by failing to pay, and then abandoning, its employees. The ITF continues its dialogue with the owners to ensure that no seafarer goes home without his pay, but we remain ready to assist the crew to arrest both ships if necessary.”

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