Malaviya Twenty prompts scathing open letter to government minister

The Malaviya Twenty Indian offshore supply ship has been detained in Yarmouth for not paying staff w

The Malaviya Twenty Indian offshore supply ship has been detained in Yarmouth for not paying staff wages.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The plight of the Indian crew stranded in Great Yarmouth has prompted a scathing open letter to a government shipping minister.

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of maritime trade union Nautilus International (NI), has written to John Hayes, minister of state for transport, expressing 'immense frustration' at the situation the crew are in.

The Malaviya Twenty, an off-shore supply vessel, was arrested by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency last week, after months of failing to pay its crew and port fees. Its crew have been stranded in the town since June.

Now, NI is calling for an urgent review of regulations to prevent similar cases arising.

Mr Dickinson wrote: 'In the past 18 months there have been many thousands of job losses among seafarers working in the North Sea and many of those who remain in work have had to accept pay cuts or reduced conditions.

'Nautilus finds it deeply troubling that such vessels as the Malaviya Twenty are operating in UK waters – presenting unfair competition to British ships and British seafarers.

'Decent companies are being forced to lay up ships and get rid of highly-skilled and experienced seafarers, as a consequence of being undercut by unfair competition from foreign-flagged ships with exploited foreign crews.'

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The letter goes on to outline how seafarers aboard some vessels are being paid as little as $3 an hour (£2.43), describing the cases of the Malaviya Twenty and Aberdeen based Malaviya Seven as 'appalling'.

Mr Dickinson added: 'I believe that these developments underline the urgency of the review of National Minimum Wage legislation in the maritime and offshore sector.'

Last week, the arrest of the ship provided a glimmer of hope for the 12 men that make up the crew, who have not been paid since August.

The Rev Peter Paine, Great Yarmouth's port chaplain, launched an appeal to bring some festive cheer to the crew, appealing for donations of gifts and essentials to be delivered on Christmas Day. He described the response he received as 'over-whelming.'

Now the vessel has been arrested, it will either be sold or an agreement will be made between its owners and the International Transport Workers' Federation to secure the crew's missing wages - $281,000 (around £226,500) in total.

The vessel was operated by Mumbai-based company GOL Offshore, and owned by Indian bank ICICI.

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