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‘Unacceptable’ Rise in Seafarer Abandonments in 2023, Says ITF

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 6230
January 23, 2024

A recent report by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) showed an alarming 11% rise in the number of crew abandonment cases in 2023 compared to the previous year.

The ITF reported a total of 132 abandonments, which is 13 more cases than in 2022.

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) stipulates that a ship is considered abandoned if the shipowner fails to cover the cost of a seafarer’s repatriation, fails to provide necessary maintenance and support, or severs ties with them, including not paying contractual wages for at least two months.

The ITF report also reveals that unpaid wages from 129 cases exceeded $12.1 million, 1,676 seafarers from abandoned vessels reached out to the ITF, and Indian seafarers were the most impacted with over 400 reported cases.

The ITF has so far secured more than $10.9 million in owed wages from 60 of the abandoned vessels. As cases continue to be resolved and more seafarers come forward, the final amount is expected to exceed $12.1 million.

ITF Inspectorate Coordinator, Steve Trowsdale, said the rise in seafarer abandonments is “unacceptable”.

“It is a consequence of an industry where the seafarer can be a throw-away commodity. Seafarers and their families pay the ultimate price for the greed and non-compliance of ship owners, enduring the inhuman consequences of a system that compromises their well-being, dignity and basic human rights. ITF inspectors do an incredible job in holding to account those shipowners that try to get away with treating seafarers like some sort of modern-day slaves,” said Trowsdale.

The ITF report showed that Panama, the world’s leading flag state, had the highest number of abandonments with 23 cases in 2023. Despite being the world’s second and third largest flag states, Liberia and the Marshall Islands were not among the eight flag states with the most abandonments in 2023.

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