As if we needed a reminder of how irresponsible and callous this company “Ocean Freighters” can be, an International seafarer has been literally left for dead in a Perth hospital.
A 56 year old Filipino seafarer was airlifted to Bunbury in Western Australia off the Cypriot registered “Pontovremon” 120 nautical miles off the Western Australian coast on the 21st March. She sailed from Port Lincoln of the 16th March after the ship lifted a cargo of grain bound for Rotterdam. At some time between then and the 21st the seaman suffered a stroke and is not expected to recover.
The ITF have a catalogue of examples where Ocean Freighters have mistreated, underpaid and exploited seafarers on their ships visiting Australian ports taking Australian exports to international markets. Only last year the ITF exposed the company for not allowing crew to access medical treatment after two men were injured when a mooring wire broke on the same ship. Her sister ship “Pontoklydon” was involved in serious cases of crew abuse including the denial of access in 2009 in Dalrymple Bay.
The ITF have now formally requested that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority investigate the series of events leading up to the medical evacuation to establish how long the seafarer had to wait before he was finally taken off. The Federation has asked for a parallel investigation to be held on the ship when she docks in Rotterdam later this month including an examination of log book entries and interviewing other crew.
Correspondence from Ocean Freighters in Piraeus signal their refusal to pay for the wife of the seafarer to fly to his side from Manila despite advice from the hospital that it is imperative for the next of kin to attend. The hospital has pleaded with Ocean Freighters sense of compassion as the seaman is unlikely to survive. Ocean Freighters have responded to say that freight rates are currently very low and that they have already suffered significant financial loss in the medivac process and so will not pay for any assistance to the family.
This is an extreme situation by one of the most tyrannical employers in the FOC system. The industry must take measures to protect all workers from the thuggery of employers like these. Seafarers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect particularly where they get hurt or fall ill.
Charterers have to be more proactive and refuse to hire bottom feeders like Ocean Freighters, shippers need to be more responsible for the vessels they use and Governments should level harsh punishments for abusers of seafarer’s rights.