International Transport Workers Federation Decries Treatment of Stranded Seafarers in Quebec City

QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 24, 2013 /CNW/ - The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Kouyou was detained today in the port of Quebec after maritime labour officials determined that crew were owed more than $30,000 US in back pay.

It is the third detention in Canada of a vessel under the new international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which came into force worldwide in August.

Problems aboard the ship were discovered by Gerard Bradbury, an inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation and Canadian union, Unifor.

"Twenty Burmese and Vietnamese crew, including the Canadian Captain James Maung are not being paid or treated properly, and in particular had been shorted on the home-allotment portion of their pay that provides for families left at home while seafarers are abroad at work, Bradbury said.

The most alarming situation aboard involved crew who had paid a total of $6,600 USD in fees to obtain their jobs, Bradbury said. Recruitment or placement fees paid to staffing agents are illegal under international labour conventions. In some cases, crew were also receiving less than half the wage owed them under their labour agreement, Bradbury added. Wage calculations are ongoing, but are expected to top $30,000 USD.

Four crew members have asked to be repatriated after receiving wages owed them.

Transport Canada was notified and has stepped in to detain the vessel until all wages have been satisfied and crew have been sent home.

Bradbury said that contact has been made with the Japanese owners Doun Kisen KK, the Japanese company that owns the vessel and that talks are under way.

The Kouyou is the third foreign vessel detained in Canada for serious violations of international labour standards and violations of a collective bargaining agreement.

"We are extremely pleased that Canada has seriously given life to the MLC," said Peter Lahay ITF Canadian Coordinator. "On our request Transport Canada inspectors are enforcing a convention that has been agreed to by the world's shipping community and member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO has concluded that the worlds seafarers are among the most isolated and marginalized workers in the world and are in need to special protection. Protecting them is what we are doing."

He went on to say that Canadian's should be proud of being the first country anywhere in the world to detain a vessel under provisions of the MLC. In all three cases so far, crew members from Hydra Warrior, Lia M and now Kouyou were being badly cheated."

"The worlds seafarers can rest assured that if they have problems aboard their ships Canada's ITF inspectors will do everything in their power to correct the problems."

SOURCE: International Transport Workers Federation

For further information:

ITF Inspector Gerard Bradbury 902-441-2195

ITF Canadian Coordinator Peter Lahay 604-418-0345

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International Transport Workers Federation

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