|Comments and Observations:||ITF (18 November 2021)|
The ITF considers that this is a clear case of abandonment and one which has not yet been resolved.
Until recently, three months wages were outstanding in clear breach of the requirements of the MLC and in breach of the employment contracts of each crew member.
As stated by Mr de Boer, the case cannot be considered resolved until the crew have been paid all outstanding wages and all crew wishing to be repatriated have been repatriated.
The crew have still not been paid for October, despite the date being beyond the mid point of November, and remain on board the vessel. Therefore the case is clearly not resolved.
It is disappointing that the flag appears to fail to grasp the seriousness of abandonment, as demonstrated by their request that the case be disregarded. A request made despite the clear breaches of MLC and the failure of the shipowner to satisfactorily resolve the case. There appears to be a failure to understand the impact on the crew and their families of not being paid for three months.
It is further disappointing that the flag appears to take a contradictory position by claiming that the crew have not been abandoned because the owner has maintained email contact, yet has encouraged the crew to apply for financial security under MLC Standard A2.5.2. The flag needs to make it clear whether they consider this to be an abandonment or not.
With respect, the universally accepted test for abandonment under A2.5.2 para 2(c) is that the crew have not been paid for two months. Such action is a unilateral breach of contract which can be deemed a severing of ties.
ITF considers that it is insufficient for the flag to simply “trust” that wages will be paid. Concrete actions need to demonstrate that the failure to pay wages on a monthly basis, as required by MLC, is unacceptable. The lack of such action is a clear failure by the flag to uphold the MLC on its vessels and demonstrates to shipowners that there is a lack of consequence for breaching the MLC.
We request that the flag take immediate action to ensure that the abandonment case is resolved by the payment of all outstanding wages and the repatriation of the crew; and take appropriate action to demonstrate that such breaches of MLC will not be tolerated.
Govt. of Mauritius (18 November 2021)
Palau International Ship Registry from the time that we became aware of the case, we established communication with the master of the ship and the shipping company. Based on a response given, we trusted that the outstanding wages were on the way to be paid.
Under the present (at that time) circumstances, we recognized that the ship-owners had not severed their ties with the ship and the crew; they responded to the calls for discussions and they maintained and supported the crew. However, we were in favor and we encouraged the affected seafarers to submit their claims to the Insurer issuing the valid certificate of insurance in respect of ship owners’ liability in case of abandonment.
All related correspondence is kept in the ship’s file as evidence.
On the 15 November 2021, the Master of M/V AL MAHA reported that pending wages for the two (2) months August & September were paid.
Therefore, we believe that you may kindly reconsider and disregard the new case of "Al Maha" as abandonment. In the meantime we are watching the ship very closely, hoping that the matter will be competely settled very soon.