The UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA) for Land and Maritime has helped 60 Asian sailors receive their payments and get back to their home countries after they were abandoned on stranded vessels.
The authorities had intervened after the sailors on 14 ships from Asian countries complained about their suffering and difficulties from the non-payment of their salaries for many months. The sailors, on Pakistani, Indian and Sri Lankan vessels, had been abandoned by their companies on UAE waters and ports for months.
After receiving the complaints, officials from the Maritime Transport Sector helped trace the ships’ owners in various countries and forced them to pay the workers’ salaries through legal means. “A team was formed to look into the sailors’ complaints and carry out the necessary investigations,” said officials from the FTA.
“As a humanitarian initiative, the authority always communicates with sailors in order to enquire about their living conditions and to provide them with support through maritime agents or charity establishments until their problems are solved.”
Authorities said they communicated with the country of the ship’s flag, the shipping agent and the owner of the vessel to address the suffering of the sailors, as they are responsible for the ships and the seamen, as per international agreements.
In some of the cases, the maritime officials amicably settled the payment issues with the sailors, clearing their outstanding payments before transporting them back to their home countries. In other instances, the authorities took legal action against the ship owners to ensure that the workers’ payment issues were resolved.
FTA officials said the employers were creating a problem by not paying their workers in time, which accumulated the sailors’ salaries, making it more difficult to obtain the payments.
Authorities said they were often facing problems in helping the sailors and settling their issues quickly because of the difficulties in tracing the ship owners or their agents, plus lack of cooperation from the ships’ flag bearer nations.
“Some sailors refrain from reporting to the authorities in time because of the fear that their employers will take arbitrary measures against them, thereby delaying their payments with false promises,” said officials.
According to the FTA, although the owners of these vessels were foreign and the ships carry flags of other nations, the UAE – represented by FTA and other relevant authorities – spares no effort in providing support to the foreign ships stranded in the country’s waters.
The FTA said that the problem of abandoned ships is a global one and occurs at most ports across the world, becoming a common occurrence in the global economy post-recession, wherein many maritime companies have been declared bankrupt.