Since the ITF brought you the story of the crew of the MV Onda, it seems Mohamed Amin has plunged to new depths in his exploitation of the seafarers.
The ITF has obtained evidence that the MV Onda crew were pushed to sign wage receipt declarations onboard the vessel in a language they could not read. The wage declarations were in English and the documents said that crew had been paid all their outstanding wages. In reality, the company still owes a number of seafarers thousands of dollars in wages. None of the crew can speak or read in English, so signed the false declarations.
The declarations are a way for Amin Shipping to try to avoid paying almost USD$4,000 in wages the company was supposed to have paid to the seafarers by now, but never has. The Onda remains abandoned off the coast of Cameroon.
The latest trick by Amin Shipping has driven some of the remaining crew give up their battle for the owed wages.
Louis Veloso, a seafarer from the small island nation of Sao Tome, off the coast of Central Africa, left the vessel days ago with half his owed wages. He is now on another ship. The oiler also received some additional cash and walked off the vessel.
The Onda’s cook and one A/B also received some of their outstanding wages and departed the vessel. For being on board the MV Onda and enduring its terrible conditions for more than year – the cook and A/B received around USD$630 and USD$820, respectively.
ITF Inspectorate Coordinator Steve Trowsdale said the ITF was appalled at the pathetically small payments to the crew who have had to put up with so much. He was compelled to write to the flag registry of Togo where the ship is registered. Trowsdale copied in the International Labour Organization, International Chamber of Shipping and the International Maritime Organization to the update, wherein he condemned Togo for their ongoing “inaction” on the Onda:
To Togolese flag state,
It seems that the nightmare for the crew on board the M/V ONDA is finally drawing to a close, not because the owner has stood up to his obligations and responsibilities, but because the crew are broken.
These innocent seafarers have suffered physical stress, mental torture, financial destitution, racist remarks, threats and been forced to live in the most inhumane conditions on board, while the owner made excuse after excuse after excuse. And so for the sake of their sanity and to be able to provide for their loved ones, they are leaving the vessel, although in a final act of desperation two of the crew have involved the police to try and recover their outstanding wages.
The owner has made some additional payments on 3rd February 2021 but it was not the full balance outstanding.
As we previously informed you, the ITF supported a group of Indian seafarers on board this vessel with the same owner in 2018 with exactly the same circumstances, and we can only assume given the complete lack of tangible action by the Togolese flag on both cases that you are happy to open your register to owners like this and to vessels which are uninsured, without classification and substandard.
We will continue to monitor the ONDA to try and ensure that the replacement crew do not suffer the same fate as the two previous crews.
Trowsdale said there was more than USD$3,800 still outstanding in wages that Amin Shipping needs to pay to the Onda’s crew.
“The owner has said that this money will be paid in the next two months. Of course we do not believe that this that this will actually happen, given Amin’s history.”
“As we say in the decades-old Flag of Convenience campaign, there is ‘No place to hide’. The MV Onda and its owner will be the target of every ITF inspector and affiliated union until such time as they are no longer a stain on the reputation of our industry and a threat to the welfare of seafarers,” he said.