22 April 2008

Seamen's Dispute in Cork has been settled

A dispute over unpaid seamen's wages on a foreign cargo ship in Cork harbour has been settled today.

The ship, the MV Defender (photo), which is operated by a Latvian company, had been detained in Cork after action by the seafarers' union, but is now free to leave the port.

Ken Fleming, the Irish inspector for the International Transport Federation (ITF), said it had been "a very tough case", but it was encouraging that - for the first time - Irish dockers had supported the foreign seafarers. He said this would make it more difficult in future for shipowners who did not treat their crews properly.

The 1500-tonne MV Defender is registered in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, under a "flag of convenience", but operated by Forestry Shipping of Riga in Latvia, which sent company staff to Cork to settle the dispute.

Ken Fleming claims that five of the crew had been pressurised into withdrawing their claims for overdue pay. The rest of the crew, who claimed they had not been paid since last year, are to get $ 63,000 in back wages and leave the ship. The ITF is now arranging for them to go home.

Cork dockers have backed the ships' crew, the first time a stand has been taken by a local labour force in Ireland in support of foreign seafarers.

According to Ken Fleming the ITF has in the past two years helped to recover about $ 1 million in unpaid wages for the crews of foreign ships docking in Ireland.

The Emerald Islander

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