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ITF calls out Saudi shipowner and Bahrain authorities

ITF calls out Saudi shipowner and Bahrain authorities
Gary Howard | Feb 29, 2024

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has accused a Saudi Arabian shipowner of abandoning seafarers, and the Bahrain maritime authorities of “looking the other way”.

The trade union federation said it had received many reports from individual seafarers of pay being withheld by Hadi H Al Hammam Establishment for up to five months. One report said there were “dangerously low levels of food, water and fuel.”

The company has been added to a list of those who have denied and abused seafarer human and trade union rights.

Hadi H Al Hammam Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its website lists a fleet of 35 vessels including Anchor Handlers, OSVs, utility and maintenance vessels.

“With so many vessels from the same company involved, it seems likely that the owners are in some sort of financial difficulty,” said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s Inspectorate Coordinator.

Trowsdale said that under MLC, seafarers’ should be paid at least once per month. Crews are considered abandoned if they are owed two or more months of pay, or lack sufficient food, water and fuel.

Action on cases of abandonment should come from both insurers and the ship’s flag state. Hadi H Al Hammam’s vessels are flagged in Bahrain, which is not a signatory to MLC and therefore crews on its vessels are not covered by the international regulation's protections. ITF claims Bahrain authorities have taken “no practical action to bring the owners to account.”

ITF has threatened to activate the any financial security that may cover the vessel via its insurers Gard, which would, if it is in place, pay seafarers up to four months in lost salary and cover repatriation costs. While the security is only a requirement under MLC, the fleet may have cover in place in order to call ports that require such insurance to be in place..