02.02.2022

The union helped in an almost hopeless case

Sometimes crewmembers turn to the Seafarers Union of Russia for help with such problems, which are very difficult to solve. It is difficult to achieve justice if a seafarer has not received money for his work, and the company, for which he worked, in fact, has already ceased to exist. However, even in such cases, there are exceptions, and the crewmember receives the funds due to them. A similar miracle has recently happened largely thanks to the Kaliningrad territorial organization of the Seafarers Union of Russia (KTO SUR).

So, back in early 2021, a Chief Engineer from the sea tug MKN 204 turned to the trade union for help as he did not receive a salary after the completion of the contract.

The vessel he worked on was built in 2019, sailed under the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and was engaged for oil production supply on the offshore of Saudi Arabia. The registered owner was a Liberian company that handed over the tugboat to the bareboat charter of Saudi Makamin Offshore Saudi Ltd (Makamin Offshore), and which, in turn, was the contractor of the world's largest oil producing company Aramco.

The vessel was not covered by the collective agreement. According to the employment contract, the employer was a bareboat charterer, who was also the manager (operator) of the tugboat.

Prior to the sailor's appeal to the trade union, Makamin Offshore repeatedly promised to pay him the debt, but in reality the company ceased its activities due to insolvency, and the tugboat MKN 204 remained laid up in the Saudi port of Dammam.

According to Lyudmila Izmalkova, the chairman of the KTO SUR, with the help of the trade union, the Chief Engineer turned to the international law firm Topmaris (Topmaris Law Firm). Having assessed the situation, which seemed almost hopeless, the specialists nevertheless decided to tackle the problem.

The MKN 204 had a certificate of compliance with the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC 2006), the liability of shipowners was covered by the West of England Shipowners Club. However, the club responded to the lawyers' demand to pay the sailor's salary by refusing to recognize this case as an insurance case and did not reimburse the unpaid funds, - Lyudmila Izmalkova said.

Meanwhile, the owner of the MKN 204 changed the ship's manager to a company from Singapore.

In April 2021, the situation seemed completely hopeless as the one-year statute of limitations on the maritime claim had expired, the P&I club refused compensation, and the employer, Makamin Offshore, was insolvent. In this difficult situation, steps were taken to identify the beneficial owner of the vessel and to hold him accountable in the matter of salary payments. It was established that the beneficial owner of the Liberian company, and, accordingly of the vessel, was a large Chinese leasing company for marine vessels and structures, which transferred the tug to the Makamin Offshore bareboat charter. It also turned out that in April 2021, the Chinese owner, in order to obtain a new MLC 2006 certificate, provided the flag authorities of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with a declaration that the ship was not burdened with salary requirements.

It was a real breakthrough in the case. The lawyers were able to prove that by this declaration the owner of the vessel assumed obligations to pay all salary claims. The situation has radically changed.

Thus, representatives of the seafarer held talks with lawyers from the UAE, representing the interests of the Chinese owner, and reached an agreement that as soon as MKN 204 leaves Saudi Arabia, the owner will repay the debt. In November, the tug departed for the port of Dubai (UAE), and in early December, the seafarers was paid a debt of several tens of thousands of dollars.

Thus, thanks to the cooperation of the KTO SUR and the international law firm Topmaris, another seemingly hopeless case ended in victory, and the interests of the sailor were protected.

Source:  KTO SUR


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