After 11 months without wages for their families, 19 seafarers aboard the bulk carrier MV Ula in the port of Shuaiba, Kuwait, went on hunger strike.
The mixed crew from India, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh demand immediate repatriation and payment for $410,415.65, which is owed to them as wages.
They have refused all meals since January 7, claiming they cannot eat while their families go hungry. Their hunger strike is now extended into February.
“We only drink water to keep going,” one crew member assured. Six of the crew have already been hospitalized to stabilize their blood pressure and sugar levels, before being returned to the ship. The seafarers risk death if they continue to refuse to eat.
“The crew has been on board the ship for 14 months, some for more than 19 months. One has been on board for 26 months. They are asking Kuwait to replace them with local crew, so they can return home to their families.” said Mohamed Arrachedi, ITF Arab World and Iran Network Coordinator for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). “They have not been paid for 11 months.”
Arrachedi said the ITF has offered legal assistance to the crew. The offer is part of the ITF’s long-term interest in the case and support for the crew.
The ITF contacted parties with obligations and liabilities to the crew more than a year ago in September 2019. This included the Qatari shipowner and his insurer. Since then, the ITF has been fighting time and time again to get food, water and wage payments owed to them.
When Arrachedi first received a call for help from the crew, the MV Ula was in Iran and had no lighting, little fuel, little food and little water.
“At that time, 25 crew members on board became ill due to lack of medicine, drinking water and food,” said one crew member. ” At times we only had enough provisions for one meal a day.”