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Saudi ship owner morally bankrupt; Bahrain maritime authorities look the other way

Hовости 28 Feb 2024

28 February 2024, London 

Seafarers are struggling to survive after being abandoned by a Saudi Arabian company across multiple vessels – registered in Bahrain. 

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has received many concerning reports about withheld pay from individual seafarers working on eight ships owned by Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment.  

The company, which lists Saudi Aramco among its customers and was buying brand new ships as recently as 2018, has not paid seafarers for more than five months in some cases. One seafarer reported dangerously low levels of food, water and fuel: 

“Until now I didn't receive any salary [for 5 months] and I would like to inform you we have shortages of food and fuel all the time, we are suffering all the time… Please I need your support” 

The ITF fears an escalating problem across the company’s 35 ships and has added Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment to the Seafarers’ Breach of Rights Index – a new index that lists those who deny and abuse seafarers’ basic human and trade union rights.  

“With so many vessels from the same company involved, it seems likely that the owners are in some sort of financial difficulty,” said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s Inspectorate Coordinator.  

“But it’s not acceptable for its managers to be using seafarers’ pay to juggle their spreadsheets. These are people’s lives they’re playing with, not just the seafarers themselves but their families who depend on their salaries.” 

The ITF condemns the practice of restricting pay as a way of managing shipping finances. Trowsdale points out that under international law – the  Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC) – seafarers’ should be paid at least once per month and crews owed two months or more of pay or who are not provided with sufficient food, water and fuel are considered to have been abandoned, which should trigger action by insurers and the ship’s Flag State (the country where the ship is registered). 

“If you’re not paying your crews, you are already bankrupt, both financially and morally,” said Trowsdale. 

Bahrain’s inaction signals contempt 

Most of Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment’s ships are registered in Bahrain – a state which has not ratified the MLC. While ITF inspectors have informed Bahraini maritime authorities about each case of abandonment, no practical action has been taken to bring the owners to account. 

“Bahrain is responsible for the ships it registers, including for the wages, working conditions in general, and the welfare of the crew. They have the power to hold this company to account, yet they’ve done nothing to help” said Mohamed Arrachedi, the ITF Flags of Convenience Network Coordinator for the Arab World and Iran. 

“It’s a signal of Bahrain’s contempt for workers’ rights that it is one of the few countries in the world which has not ratified the MLC,” he added. The failure to ratify MLC means that seafarers on board vessels registered in Bahrain are robbed of the essential protections contained in the convention known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights.  

The ITF has also contacted Gard, which provides financial security for these ships. In cases of abandonment, this type of insurance should pay seafarers up to four months of lost pay and cover the costs of getting them home. Arrachedi explains, if Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment does not immediately meet its contractual obligations to its crew, the ITF will seek to activate the financial security covering the vessels, if such cover is present. 

While financial security is a requirement of MLC, even vessels registered in Bahrain often have the cover as it can be required when visiting ports in countries that have ratified. 

Unfortunately, it is normal for seafarers to remain without pay while such a dispute remains unresolved.   

END 

 

Notes: 

  • We would like to hear from any seafarer who has not already been in touch with the ITF on board vessels HADI 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 33, 35, 38, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 or 54, or who has pay issue with Hadi Al Hamman or subsidiary companies. Email us in complete confidence at seafwelfare@itf.org.uk 

About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.  

About the Seafarers’ Breach of Rights Index: The ITF Seafarers’ Breach of Rights Index seeks to identify action by shipowners, ship managers, flag states or other parties, which violate seafarers' fundamental rights, either individually or collectively. This includes but is not limited to actual or threatened physical or sexual abuse; non-payment of wages; persistent violation of employment agreement or collective agreement provisions; violation of health and safety standards; sub-standard food and water; sub-standard crew accommodation, repeated abandonment; and persistent disregard of international standards relating to maritime safety, crew accommodation, and other relevant standards. 

Media contact: Jessica Summers +44 7702 259 612 media@itf.org.uk 

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