Left to Starve
Despite the much vaunted roll out of the Maritime Labour Convention it seems poor old seafarers can still suffer when things go wrong. To such an extent that a group of 16 seafarers including five Sri Lankans are facing starvation after local agents halted essential deliveries of supplies following a simmering payment dispute with the ship's owner.
The International Transport workers Federation (ITF) has said that food, fuel and water stocks had severely depleted on board the Malaysian-flagged "Saag Sirius" which has remained at the harbour anchorage of the port of Colombo for the past three (and counting).
The ITF added that the relevant authorities including the local handling agent were passing the buck while the situation on board the vessel deepened with each passing day.
The local agent claims that the ship owner based in Malaysia was in the red in payments and therefore they could no longer take responsibility for the crew or vessel that is currently anchored eight nautical miles off the port.
The ship has been detained on a court order following a complaint from the Sri Lankan/ Myanmar crew on the non-payment of wages for the past three months.
So can that be it then? Will the local agents just let them starve because of the owners' non-payment. It seems a sorry mess, and one which while the courts may prevaricate over a verdict, the least anyone can do is to give the poor crew something to eat and drink. This very sorry mess shows just why initiatives to ease the hardship of those caught in the middle of abandonment issues are so vital.
Efthimios Mitropoulos, IMO secretary general emeritus once said that, "Seafarers are the lubricant without which the engine of trade would simply grind to a halt Seafarers are the unsung heroes of an unsung industry". Sadly though, they remain heroes which are being shafted, starved and forsaken while the engine of trade continues to turn.
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