If the pandemic was not challenging enough for seafarers, owed wages just compounded the predicament for the 21-member crew of MT Golden Nori, a Panama-flagged ship, who found that they have not been paid wages since June 2020. A negative response from the Shipowner spurred the affected crew to contact the International Transport Workers’ Federation for help in claiming back their unpaid wages.
On arrival into Singapore waters in October 2020, the vessel was arrested by the Court due to the Shipowner allegedly owing nearly US$500,000 worth of debts to some 20 creditors based in South Korea. After seeking advice from SMOU on what to do next, the crew sought legal action, with the assistance of local maritime unions, manning agencies, and law firm Gurbani & Co to file their wage claim.
The crew felt increasingly anxious and worried about their families back home. With increasing cases of COVID-19 infection back in their home countries, many of them longed to return home as soon as possible to be there for their loved ones. SMOU assured the crew members that the local maritime unions and lawyers are working on facilitating their wage claims and repatriation process.
The Court finally passed the judgment in February 2021 to have the vessel sold via auction. The process of signing off some of the crew finally began in March 2021, where 7 crew members from the Philippines and Vietnam were repatriated home safely with help from the law firm and Sheriff agency.
To the relief and joy of the remaining crew onboard, the sale of the vessel was officially finalised on 7 May 2021. The rest of the crew got to sign off the next day and stayed at dedicated holding facilities while awaiting their flights back home. The crew members of MT Golden Nori were very appreciative of the support from SMOU in this time of need. This is what the union is about, living out its mission in championing the interests and welfare of seafarers, while adding value to the maritime community and beyond.