The eleven crew members of the Panamanian flagged general cargo ship Aegean Princess have finally been able to return home to India and Myanmar, after a dispute between their ship’s operator and owner saw them held in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, for 17 months.
However, the crew is still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid wages, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said.
“This has been a difficult case, and in the end, we were helped to conclude it by UAE Federal Transport Authority [FTA],” ITF inspector, Mohamed Arrachedi, who has been helping the crew members since they were abandoned in June 2016, said.
Arrachedi added that ITF was also provided assistance from the flag state Panama to resolve the issue.
“But this is not the end of this sad story, the seafarers are owed wages going back to 2015, totaling over USD 916,000. There is never an excuse for seafarers to be abandoned like this, it is a scourge that has to stop, and it has to stop now”.
“The ITF and the FTA have been working closely to end abandonment in UAE waters, and these seafarers have seen the benefit of this. As the UAE moves towards fully complying with the Maritime Labour Convention all seafarers will enjoy the greater protection they deserve when working there.”
As a way of dealing with the growing number of abandonment cases, the FTA has introduced a financial safety net for seafarers working on all ships flying the UAE flag trading internationally, and all ships operating in UAE waters above 200 gross tons.
The insurance relates to cases of abandonment, death or injury of seafarers and covers up to four months’ owed contractual wages and entitlements.
The measure, being introduced as the country readies to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, is set to enter into force on February 20, 2018, FTA said.
Ships not complying with this requirement will not be allowed to anchor or call UAE ports.