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Saudi Arabian Company Abandons Crew Across Multiple Vessels

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 28, 2024

(Photo: International Transport Workers’ Federation)

(Photo: International Transport Workers’ Federation)

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said it has received many reports about withheld pay from individual seafarers working on eight Bahrain-registered vessels owned by Saudi Arabian company Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment.  

The company, which lists Saudi Aramco among its customers and was buying brand new ships as recently as 2018, has not paid seafarers for more than five months in some cases, the ITF said. One seafarer reported dangerously low levels of food, water and fuel:

“Until now I didn't receive any salary [for 5 months] and I would like to inform you we have shortages of food and fuel all the time, we are suffering all the time… Please I need your support.”

Fearing an escalating problem across the company’s 35 ships, the ITF said it has added Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment to the Seafarers’ Breach of Rights Index – a new index that lists those who deny and abuse seafarers’ basic human and trade union rights.

“With so many vessels from the same company involved, it seems likely that the owners are in some sort of financial difficulty,” said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s Inspectorate Coordinator.  

“But it’s not acceptable for its managers to be using seafarers’ pay to juggle their spreadsheets. These are people’s lives they’re playing with, not just the seafarers themselves but their families who depend on their salaries.”

Trowsdale noted that under international law – the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC) – seafarers’ should be paid at least once per month and crews owed two months or more of pay or who are not provided with sufficient food, water and fuel are considered to have been abandoned, which should trigger action by insurers and the ship’s Flag State.

“If you’re not paying your crews, you are already bankrupt, both financially and morally,” Trowsdale said.

Most of Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment’s ships are registered in Bahrain – a state which has not ratified the MLC. While ITF inspectors have informed Bahraini maritime authorities about each case of abandonment, no practical action has been taken to bring the owners to account, the group said.

“Bahrain is responsible for the ships it registers, including for the wages, working conditions in general, and the welfare of the crew. They have the power to hold this company to account, yet they’ve done nothing to help” said Mohamed Arrachedi, the ITF Flags of Convenience Network Coordinator for the Arab World and Iran.

“It’s a signal of Bahrain’s contempt for workers’ rights that it is one of the few countries in the world which has not ratified the MLC,” he added. The failure to ratify MLC means that seafarers on board vessels registered in Bahrain are robbed of the essential protections contained in the convention known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights.  

The ITF said it has also contacted Gard, which provides financial security for these ships. In cases of abandonment, this type of insurance should pay seafarers up to four months of lost pay and cover the costs of getting them home. 

According to Arrachedi, if Hadi H Al Hamman Establishment does not immediately meet its contractual obligations to its crew, the ITF will seek to activate the financial security covering the vessels, if such cover is present.

While financial security is a requirement of MLC, even vessels registered in Bahrain often have the cover as it can be required when visiting ports in countries that have ratified.

The ITF said it is common for seafarers to remain without pay while such a dispute remains unresolved.

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