ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A crew contacted SeafarerHelp to report an issue with their cash allowance, but it soon became clear that there were more serious issues on board.
Working at sea is not always smooth sailing. SeafarerHelp received an e-mail from a crew of Filipino, Georgian and Ukrainian seafarers who had not been given their cash allowance on board and were unable to buy essentials like toothpaste or phone cards. The crew had reported the problem to the company’s operations manager without success.
The crew member communicating on the crew’s behalf, Nelson*, then explained to one of SeafarerHelp’s Filipino speakers that there were further problems on board. Many of the crew had finished their contracts but their repatriation had not been arranged. The seafarers’ salaries were delayed so they were worried about their families back home. Nelson also reported that the allocation of drinking water on board was limited and the crew had been sailing in 50°C heat with no air conditioning and broken generators.
With the crew’s permission, SeafarerHelp contacted the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Support team and the flag state to resolve the issues on board. The authorities investigated the allegations with the vessel operators and Nelson later updated SeafarerHelp that the families had received the pending salaries, much to the crew’s relief. A technician also visited the vessel to repair the broken equipment and the flag state confirmed that the crew would be repatriated at the next port. The SeafarerHelp team gave Nelson the good news.
A few days later, Nelson contacted SeafarerHelp to say that all crew members were now back home.
Throughout two months of contact with the crew, the SeafarerHelp team ensured the seafarers were kept updated and never felt alone.
If you haven’t been paid according to the terms of your contract, it is important to act quickly. All the contact details for SeafarerHelp can be found at seafarerhelp.org.
*This seafarer’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.