Stranded Seafarers Sent Home

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July 20, 2012

A laid up Comarit-Comanav ferry

The last of the Moroccan seafarers left stranded off the coast of Spain for more than six months after the ferry company they were working for ran into financial trouble have finally been sent home.

Earlier this year the Moroccan ferry operator Comarit-Comanav drastically reduced operations and laid up 11 ships in Spanish, French and Moroccan ports.  As a result, some 360 seafarers were left stranded and faced shortages of food, fuel and pay as the company continued to operate just shy of bankruptcy.

On Thursday the International Transport Workers’ Federation made the announcement that the final Moroccan seafarers caught in the financial crossfire off the coast of Spain have been repatriated. Seafarers on vessels in France have already been sent home.

The announcement comes after the ITF initiated a solidarity campaign earlier this year after workers from the ITF-affiliated Moroccan Workers’ Union (UMT) reported their abandonment on-board Comarit-Comanav vessels, specifically in Algeciras, Spain and Sete in France.  Action in support of the seafarers included solidarity strikes by dockers in Moroccan ports and a mass rally by maritime workers in Spain. The ITF is now seeking to securing the wages owed to the crews.

“The ITF is providing assistance both in Morocco and in Spain for whatever appropriate legal action is necessary to recover their salaries,” said Jose Manuel Ortega, the national coordinator for the International Transport Workers’ Federation in Spain. “These seafarers are finally heading home after seven months, but this is only the beginning of the process to recover what they are owed.”

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