Trade union federation accuses UAE vessel operator of seafarer abandonment

A tug operated by UAE-based Middle East Marine
Photo: International Transport Workers' Federation

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) recently issued a statement condemning UAE-based towage company Middle East Marine for what it claims are, “systematic abuse and neglect of over 100 seafarers.”

The ITF said it is calling on the UAE government and the Palau maritime authorities to act accordingly in the wake of 17 reported abandonments across 18 Middle East Marine-operated vessels in Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka since November 2022.

The group said seafarers from India, Indonesia, and Myanmar “have been left in dire conditions” characterised by abuses such as dirty drinking water and insufficient food, wages being unpaid for as many as seven months, withholding of passports and medication, and refusal of hospital visits for ill crew.

The ITF said that, under international law seafarers should be paid at least once per month. Crews owed two months or more of pay or who are not provided with sufficient food, water, and fuel are considered to have been “abandoned”, which should trigger action by insurers and the ship’s flag state – the country where the ship is registered – in this case Palau.

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