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Shipwreck survivor secures compensation with union’s support

20 Sep 2021
The Bourbon Rhode

In September 2019, a tug supply vessel sank in the middle of the central Atlantic Ocean. The ‘Bourbon Rhode’ was travelling from the Canary Islands to Guyana in South America when it was hit by a devastating hurricane: Lorenzo.

All but three of the seafarers onboard the Bourbon Rhode were killed. The only three survivors spent the next three days struggling desperately for life against the storm. In a tiny life raft, with no food, no water, and barely any hope; these brave maritime workers fought to cling on.

Yevgeniy Nikolov recovers in hospital (Credit: MTWTU)
Yevgeniy Nikolov recovers in hospital (Credit: MTWTU)

One of the survivors was Ukrainian seafarer Yevgeniy Nikolov. He was injured and, understandably, couldn’t face working at sea again after the shipwreck.

Under his contract, the shipowner failed to keep the vessel seaworthy and safe to weather conditions which could be expected in the mid-Atlantic. With having no progress by fighting by himself, or even with some lawyers who said they could help, Yevgeniy turned to his union.

When the seafarer turned to the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union (MTWTU) of Ukraine, suddenly he saw progress. 

Working with the MTWTU and its legal partner, Sergeyevs’ Law Office, the united team was able to force the company to pay Yevgeniy a substantial amount in compensation. Money he was owed.

Since then, Yevgeniy Nikolov has wanted to share his remarkable story with the world.

Speaking to cadets of maritime schools and fellow MTWTU seafarers, he said of the union:

Yevgeniy Nikolov signs the final compensation agreement in the MTWTU office
Yevgeniy Nikolov signs the final compensation​ agreement in the MTWTU office (Credit: MTWTU)

“I can say for sure: I turned to the right place. You listened to me, looked into my problem and did everything to help. I am grateful for everything that has been done for me and my family and I will gladly share my experience with other seafarers.”

MTWTU Chairman Oleg Grygoriuk explained how they were able to help the injured seafarer and win his claim:

“We were quite radically minded discussing the strategy, given that the company kept ignoring open negotiations for one and a half years. However, it is noteworthy that the company acted quickly as soon as it found out that Yevgeniy’s interests were represented by the MTWTU,” said the MTWTU Chairman.

“It’s no coincidence that when employers such as this hear that a seafarer has the backing of the ITF union family, and us, the only maritime ITF affiliate in Ukraine.”

“Our global solidarity implies a certain authority and reputation. This case shows why it pays to be with an ITF union,” said Oleg Grygoriuk.


Yevgeniy Nikolov, Yuriy Sergieiev, MTWTU legal advisor, and Oleg Grygoriuk MTWTU Chairman
Yevgeniy Nikolov, Yuriy Sergieiev, MTWTU legal advisor, and Oleg Grygoriuk MTWTU Chairman (Credit: MTWTU)