‘Tip of the iceberg’: Crew abandonment cases hit new high, many still going unreported

While shipping may have been enjoying improved fortunes of late, the scourge of crew abandonment shows no sign of easing. Indeed, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) reported yesterday that the number of cases reported to the International Labour Organization has set a new record.

The ITF lodged 60 of the 85 the cases which appeared in the ILO abandonment database last year, representing hundreds of seafarers who were owed wages, repatriation flights, or both.

ITF inspectorate coordinator Steve Trowsdale warned the number of cases officially reported and recorded by the IMO “is just the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to instances of abandonment and owed wages.

“Abandonment is on the rise, and sadly a reason for that rise has been flag states not standing up to their responsibilities to seafarers. Flag states are supposed to ensure that ships that fly their flags are paying seafarers on time, repatriating them at the end of contracts, and providing the necessities of life,” said Trowsdale.

The ITF managed to win back $44.6m of owed seafarer wages last year.

In April this year charity Human Rights at Sea partnered with global law firm Reed Smith to help tackle the seafarer abandonment issue, publishing legal advice for crew who become stranded.

The team have produced a draft alert letter to send to owners, operators, managers, flag state and Port State Control. Further, the publication includes a comprehensive list of support organisations with current contact details.

The document is available for free by clicking here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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