Paid: Case Of The Lady Belinda's Stranded Seamen
Lady Belinda case: Stranded Seamen Claim US$102,000 in Unpaid Wages
Singapore, 7 April 2008 - A crew of 22 seamen, stranded onboard the MV Lady Belinda since January have finally been paid US$102,000 in wages, owed to them since December 2007.
Most of the relieved seamen, onboard, all Indian Nationals, have submitted requests to leave the vessel when they received their salaries, which were paid to them in cash on 5 April 2008, citing the unseaworthiness of the vessel.
The stricken bulk carrier, fully laden
with iron ore, became immobilised on 5 January 2008 in the
northern stretch of the Malacca Straits and had arrived
under tow in Singapore on 14 January 2008.
The vessel had since been detained by the authorities for not being seaworthy.
The crew had sought the help of the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union (SMOU) to recover up to 4 months of wages.
SMOU President Capt
Robin Foo said that he was appalled at the condition of the
vessel which had a visible hole at its stern just above the
water line and the food and water provisions for the crew
which were running low.
"It is really distressing to see that seafarers are still being unscrupulously exploited, and the unsafe working conditions onboard the unseaworthy vessel is a cause for concern for the industry".
He added, "We are thankful for the assistance by the various seafaring welfare organisations especially the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), who have helped with the humanitarian welfare of the seafarers and have assisted us with the wage recovery for the crew".
The vessel's Chief Officer, G. Ramanamurthy, expressed his relief and thanked the ITF and SMOU saying, "When food provisions were critical especially during the Easter weekend, SMOU came onboard with food, when we needed to contact our families, calling cards were provided and most importantly they helped us get our hard-earned wages."
"I will now go back to
my family and will look out for a better vessel to work
onboard for my next voyage".
Junior Engineer Sheikh Yakub Umar added, "We never believed we could get our money back, but the ITF & SMOU has made it possible, I'm glad that the ordeal has almost come to an end."
Capt Foo says, "We're very happy for the seafarers and it is very heart-warming as a unionist to see the joy on the faces of the seafarers who have finally received wages that they have been owed for many months and have worked very hard for."
He added that there was still some unfinished business, "As the vessel is still unsafe and unseaworthy, we are now working to ensure that the vessel owner and the employers pay for the full repatriation of the seafarers onboard and that they will continue to pay all additional wages incurred until the crew sign-off the vessel and are repatriated"
Industrial Relations Dept.
Singapore Maritime Officers' Union