Circular No: NP/043/19
TO ALL BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our ref: S1/1 S8/1
8th March 2019
Update on the Malaviya 7
In line with the resolution passed at the 2018 Maritime BGM, I am writing to update you on the outcome of the modern slavery case involving the Malaviya 7 and its crew of Indian seafarers who were abandoned with the vessel in Aberdeen port for over a year.
The offshore supply vessel (OSV) Malaviya 7 was twice detained by Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors in 2016 for unpaid wages and safety breaches. On the first occasion, the vessel was on charter to BP who took absolutely no interest in the welfare of the crew, other than to deny any liability. On the second occasion, in October 2016, the owner GOL Offshore abandoned the ship and its twenty-four crew members, leaving them on the vessel without pay or provisions for over a year.
Throughout their ordeal the crew received provisions, advice and assistance from Aberdeen port authorities, the ITF, RMT, Nautilus and members of the public.
In October 2017, the first effort was made to auction the Malaviya 7 in order to pay £672,000 in wages owed to the crew. This collapsed after the only bid received was a derisory £300,000. The vessel was sold the following month for nearly £700,000, with seventeen crew members safely returning home to their families. The remaining seven crew members stayed with the vessel in order to hand the Malaviya 7 over to its new owners.
In January 2018, the Malaviya 7 sailed from Aberdeen port after eighteen months detained in port. All the crew were paid the wages they were owed in March 2018. Even when the employer was honouring its basic obligations to the Malaviya 7 crew, the contracted rate of pay was well below the National Minimum Wage.
We believe that this case constitutes modern slavery and exposes the continued failure to tackle unscrupulous shipowners who continue to exploit and even abandon seafarers, despite the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention. Your union continues to highlight the Malaviya 7 and its sister ship the Malaviya 20 as examples of modern slavery in the UK shipping industry.
Seafarer abandonment is a major problem in the international shipping industry, with over 1,300 seafarers abandoned in foreign ports by their employer in the five years to 2017. Just last December, a case came to light involving forty mainly Indian seafarers who were abandoned on three ships in ports in the United Arab Emirates by the shipowner Elite Way Marine Services. Some of the seafarers have been abandoned confined to the ship without pay for nearly two years.
Through the SOS 2020 campaign and working with the ITF, your union is fighting to end seafarer abandonment cases like Malaviya 7 from being repeated, in UK or any other waters.
I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of members in your branch. You will be kept updated with further developments.