This article was adapted from Nautilus International.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has revealed that its inspectors recovered more than US$37 million in unpaid wages and entitlements from shipowners in 2021.
The wages were recovered as the ITF’s inspectors and coordinators completed a total of 7,265 inspections.
‘Concerningly, we’re seeing a rise in the number of seafarers reporting non-payment of wages for periods of two months or longer, which actually meets the ILO’s definition of abandonment,’ said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s inspectorate coordinator.
‘Seafarers might think it’s normal to go unpaid for a couple of months, waiting for a shipowner to sort out financing, but they need to be aware that non-payment can also be a sign that a shipowner is about to cut them loose and leave them abandoned.’
Abandonment figures went up to historic high levels last year, with the ITF reporting 85 cases of seafarer abandonment to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This was paired with an increased number of requests from crew wanting to get home at the height of the crew change crisis. The ITF estimates that around 400,000 seafarers were affected at its peak.
‘There is evidence that some shipowners were using Covid-19 as an excuse to keep seafarers working beyond their initial contracts and in complete violation of those seafarers’ human and labour rights,’ Mr Trowsdale added.
‘Thankfully, our team was wise to what was going on and despite everything we got thousands of seafarers home.’