In one of the most notorious cases of human slavery that the ITF has encountered in years, three Pakistani seafarers onboard the Iranian-flagged MV Borhan 3 spent 22 months without ever being paid a single dollar.
In a clear-cut case of modern slavery, the Pakistani crew were left abandoned at the Iranian Port of Bushehr, forced to live and endure in miserable conditions, while their pleas for help were continually ignored by the company and the flag state.
Eradicating notorious companies like this from the maritime industry must be a priority on the agenda of governments and authorities, to stand up for what’s right and ensure that no seafarer is subjected to this type of slavery,” said Steve Trowsdale, ITF inspectorate coordinator.
“Over the past two years the company, Borhan Darya Kish, has acted with total impunity. For 22 months the company didn’t pay these seafarers a cent, they never paid one advance or allotment, and left the crew in a dire and defenceless position,” said Mohamed Arrachedi ITF Arab World and Iran Network Coordinator..
Despite the lack of cooperation from the Iranian flag state and maritime authorities and the Pakistan Embassy in Iran, the ITF and our affiliate the Iranian Merchant Mariners Syndicate (IMMS) managed to secure both the seafarers’ repatriation home on 27 and 29 September 2019, as well as US16,112 in owed wages for each seafarer.
“These workers have suffered greatly and been trapped in an extremely trying mental and economic situation. We simply could not stop fighting for them. ITF and IMMS were committed to keep working the case until every one of these seafarers was safely repatriated home to Pakistan,” said Mohamed Arrachedi, ITF Arab World and Iran network coordinator.
“We managed to secure a proportion of the wages owed to the crew, and will continue to fight for the seafarers to be paid the rest of the wages that they’re owed by this exploitative company.
“We send our heartfelt thanks to ITF contact Mr Moradi from IMMS, whose perseverance and active assistance during so many long months, has made this miracle happen,” said Arrachedi.
A second case in Syria, has seen 6 of the 13 crew on board the Syrian-flagged roro passenger ship, the Lady Caroline, safely repatriated home.
The Lady Caroline and its crew from Egypt, India, Syria and Turkey were abandoned in the Syrian port of Latakia on 23 June 2019.
After receiving a request from the crew for assistance, the vessel was visited by the ITF delegation in June 2019, which led to the ITF taking on the case and supporting the seafarers to secure repatriation and to launch a legal claim against the shipowner for their owed wages.
Responding to the seafarers’ plea for help, the ITF covered the costs to return six Indian seafarers home from Latakia on humanitarian grounds. The crew are now safely back in India.
“We thank our affiliates, the Lebanese Seamans Syndicate and the Seafarers Syndicate of Syria (Latakia Branch) – as well as the Professional Trade Union of the Transport Workers Syndicates – whose strong show of international solidarity has successful defended these seafarers’ most fundamental rights,” said Mohamed Arrachedi.
"In particular, we would like to thank brother Nasser Nazzal, the ITF UNION contact in Lebanon for all his dedicated assistance that safeguarded these six Indian seafarers and ensure they were repatriated home safely from Damascus,” he said.
The network that the ITF has set up in the Arab World and Iran has established a vital resource for hundreds of seafarers who have called on the ITF for assistance and help.
“The solidarity of the ITF and our affiliated unions and network of contacts is making a difference in defending and advancing seafarers’ rights in a region where seafarers have historically faced difficult situations of abuse and total abandonment. And we vow to continue to develop this network to support more seafarers in the region,” said Steve Trowsdale.