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ITF recovers almost US$120 million in crew wages

ITF recovers almost US$120 million in crew wages
29th September, 2023

THE INTERNATIONAL Transport Workers’ Federation said it recovered almost US$120 million in wages owed to seafarers between 2020 and 2022.

The union this week said its inspectors recovered a total of US$118,529,663 in that period and saw more than US$36 million paid back to seafarers in 2022 alone.

The ITF said seafarers reported 2199 breach of contract cases to the union in 2022, with non-payment of wages the most common reason.

Inspectors conducted 8667 ship inspections worldwide that year and 1878 of these were in response to seafarers’ calls, emails or messages for help from the ITF.

A further 3771 inspections were carried out as part of the ITF’s system of routine and responsive inspections, which ensure ships sailing under “flags of convenience” adhere to the same international standards expected of nationally flagged vessels.

“While we are proud that our inspectors have been successful in recovering almost $120 million for seafarers in the last three years, it’s unfortunate that we need to address wage underpayments at all,” ITF seafarers’ section chair David Heindel said.

“We would prefer to see all seafarers paid in full, and paid on time in the first place,” he said.

“For some seafarers, a shipowner might miss a pay date here or there, but others can go months without receiving their salaries.

“ITF inspectors, supported by our seafarer and docker union affiliates, are here to help crew stand up for their rights wherever they find themselves in need of support.”

ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said pandemic-related restrictions had blocked most of the inspectors from boarding vessels the way they had done before the pandemic.

“We are now seeing a strong return to active and regular inspections of flags of convenience vessels – and still the same level of exploitation,” Mr Crumlin said.

“It’s another stark reminder of the underbelly of our industry, and also that more ITF inspections taking place is good news for seafarers and their rights.”

ITF inspectors are union officials who board vessels with a goal to educate seafarers on their rights and identify any violations of crew contracts, national laws or international conventions.

They also work with authorities in their respective countries on enforcement of rights.

The ITF has inspectors operating in 111 ports across 56 countries, including Australia.