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Striking sailors accused of terrorism, hostage taking

Twenty-three Russian sailors aboard a cargo ship are on strike in the Indian port of Haldia, near Calcutta. The crew is demanding three months' back-dated pay and better working conditions. However, the company that owns the ship keeps threatening the cr

Nikolay Sukhanov, the Head of Russia's Seafarers Union in the Far East,  said the crew of “DD Leader” registered under the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are demanding 3 months' backdated pay amounting to US$ 70,000.  

“The ship has unsatisfactory working conditions, there is no pay for overtime and they eat low quality food,” he added.

“The sailors are demanding  thatthe ship's owner signs a collective agreement with the International Federation of Transport Workers (IFT), whereby the wages are paid according to an international rate. In their appeal it states that their pay amounts to US$ 600 per month and the international rate is not less than US$ 1500,” Sukhanov explained.   

The crew felt they were being cheated by the owner, and sent a letter of complaint to the ITF in Calcutta and Vladivostok. Haldia is a major sea-port for Calcutta.

However, Mr Sukhanov said, when an ITF inspector arrived at the port, he was denied permission to board by the ship’s captain, which is a clear violation of International law.  

“At this point the company that owns the ship is threatening members of the crew with lawsuits, taking away their living quarters in Vladivostok and firing them. The company is also accusing them of terrorism and taking hostages aboard the vessel,” Nikolay Sukhanov said.