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ITF Raises Alarm Over Saudi Shipowner Abandoning Crews

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2930
March 1, 2024

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has raised serious concerns over unpaid wages of seafarers working on eight vessels owned by Saudi-based Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment. The company, which counts Saudi Aramco among its clients, has reportedly failed to pay its seafarers for over five months in some cases, leading to food, water, and fuel shortages.

ITF’s Inspectorate Coordinator, Steve Trowsdale, suspects that the company is grappling with financial issues.

“With so many vessels from the same company involved, it seems likely that the owners are in some sort of financial difficulty,” said Trowsdale. “But it’s not acceptable for its managers to be using seafarers’ pay to juggle their spreadsheets. These are people’s lives they’re playing with, not just the seafarers themselves but their families who depend on their salaries.” 

The ITF condemns the unfortunate practice of withholding of pay as a method for managing financials in shipping. Trowsdale notes that according to international law, specifically the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), seafarers should be paid monthly. Crews who are owed more than two months of pay or lack sufficient food, water, and fuel are deemed abandoned, prompting intervention by insurers and the ship’s Flag State.

Trowsdale further criticizes Bahrain, where most of Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment’s ships are registered. Bahrain has not ratified the MLC and has taken no practical action to hold the company accountable, despite being informed of each case of abandonment by ITF inspectors.

Mohamed Arrachedi, the ITF Flags of Convenience Network Coordinator for the Arab World and Iran, echoed this sentiment. “Bahrain is responsible for the ships it registers, including for the wages, working conditions in general, and the welfare of the crew. They have the power to hold this company to account, yet they’ve done nothing to help,” he said.

The ITF has reached out to Gard, which provides financial security for these ships. In instances of abandonment, this insurance is expected to compensate seafarers for up to four months of lost wages and cover repatriation costs. If Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment does not promptly fulfill its contractual obligations to its crew, the ITF will attempt to activate the financial security.

The ITF has also dded Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment to the Seafarers’ Breach of Rights Index, indicating an escalating issue across the company’s 35 ships. The new index lists entities that infringe upon the fundamental human and trade union rights of seafarers.

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