Justice For The 40 Seafarers Abandoned At Sea For Over 28 Months
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‘Justice Upheld’, a British Charity is instructed by 40 Seafarers, international crews comprising of Indian, Sudanese, Tanzanian, Eritreans, Filipino and Ethiopian migrant workers onboard various ships owned by ‘Elite Way Marine Services’, who have been deliberately abandoned at sea by ‘Elite Way Marine Services’ for over 27 months (and continuing) without pay.
Elite Way Marine Services’ is Shipping Company registered in the United Arab Emirates. Their named representative is H.E. Rashid Abdullah Rashid Al-Falasi along with UAE authorities are all failing to respond and account for the actions of ‘Elite Way Marine Services’. There is a failure on their part to recognise that their actions are a gross abuse of Human Rights.
The Seafarers have not been paid their salaries for months - in at least three of these cases, the Seafarers have not been paid for two and half years. They have been working to support their families back home. In several cases, the Seafarers and their families are victims severalfold; some of the seafarers and their families are victimesvnatural disasters such as cyclones in their home countries and as a consequence have already incurred financial losses. By working as seafarers, their aim was to provide for and support their families. Now they forced to endure appalling and inhumane living conditions aboard the unseaworthy ships. In addition, they are denied access to medical assessments and treatment. We understand that one of seafarers is a diabetic; he has been denied access to medical treatment. The men are clearly traumatised by their experience and degrading treatment at the hands of Elite Way Marine Services.
There is no regard to health and safety on board. The ships do not even have the basic medical provisions and/or safety equipment required in the event of an emergency. It is not clear whether the ships have been serviced and that they have passed their safety and seaworthy checks.
Elite Way Marine Services have confiscated the passports of all of the seafarers. They are ignoring all communication from the Seafarers and refusing to sign off the men with their full salaries.
The disturbing practice of ‘abandonment’ is a deliberate ploy used by some shipping companies in the Gulf States to avoid paying the salaries of migrant workers. It is targeted and discriminatory. The intention is clearly to exploit the migrant workers. It is enslavement- modern Slavery. Defenders and protectors of Human Rights must show solidarity by supporting this cause. Companies like ‘Elite Way Marine Services’ are part of the international supply chain. They must be made to account for their actions. They cannot continue with impunity.
What are the aims of the abandonment?
GREED! Antidotal evidence collected by Justice Upheld directly from victims of abandonment confirms that abandonment is widely practiced in the Gulf States. The victims of abandonment have no bargaining power whatever; they are at the mercy of the shipping company. More often than not, the Seafarers are not members of maritime Trade Unions or other organisations who may be in a position to represent their interests. In any event, our research indicates that Trade Unions have virtually no or extremely limited presence and influence in the Gulf States.
It is game of wits used by shipping companies predominantly in the Gulf States to force seafarers to leave without the income due to them or compromise and settle for considerably less than due to them. The shipping companies know that the Governments of the Seafarers’ home countries are not going to intervene to assist them. Shipping companies are self assured that they will always have endless supply of seafarers trying to make a living and support the families back home.
Once abandoned, the Seafarers are if they are fortunate, forced to accept whatever they are paid by the shipping company and then return home. The amount paid to them maybe as little a third of the income due to them over a period of time of two to three years of employment at the shipping company. The Seafarers are forced to compromise. Out of this final income they have to pay for their return flight home. This is a demeaning and a humiliating experience for the Seafarers. This humiliation continues when they have to explain the deficit in their income to their families.
The actions of ‘Elite Way Marine Services’ are a breach of International Conventions in relation to Human Rights.
The Seafarers are desperate to return to their families as a matter of priority with their full salaries. It is imperative that these men are treated with the dignity and the respect each and everyone one of them deserve.
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