Foreign crew aboard a detained ship in Tauranga have received interim payments totalling thousands of dollars after unions intervened following several months of serious problems.
The Greek owned and Panamanian flagged bulk carrier Lancelot V is under arrest at the Port of Tauranga, where the International Transport Workers’ Federation has been working with its local affiliate, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, on behalf of crew.
Maritime Union officials first visited the vessel at the Ports of Auckland in May.
They followed up complaints that crew members had not been repatriated to their home countries after their contracts had expired, as well as problems with pay, which was well below ILO minimum standards.
A Maritime New Zealand (government agency) ship inspection in Auckland revealed defects to several cranes. The ship then sailed to Tauranga where she was arrested by her charterers for breach of the charterparty. She was also detained by Maritime New Zealand when her annual classification society certificates expired.
Crew visas expired during this time, forcing them to remain on board as virtual prisoners until Immigration New Zealand issued temporary visas.
Wages to the crew had stopped about two months previously.
Maritime Union officials from Tauranga acting on behalf of the ITF visited the vessel and supported crew members during this time.
Extensive representation was made to the embassies of the Russian, Ukrainian and Filipino crew members with little result.
Following a hearing in the High Court last week, US$23,000 in interim wages was obtained to be distributed amongst the crew for the time being.
The ITF is seeking the prompt repatriation of all crew members to their home countries once the remaining back pay claims, estimated to be over US$100,000, have been resolved and for the crew to be paid at ITF rates by the charterer in the meantime.
ITF New Zealand inspector Grahame McLaren says the problems with the ship are a result of the deregulated shipping industry where “flag of convenience” shipping has undermined safety and standards.
“These ships of shame are coming into New Zealand ports. They are ripping off their crews and creating a health and safety hazard in ports and on the New Zealand coast.”