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Brazil steps in over unpaid crew

Seafarers who laid up a cargo ship off Brazil accusing its owner not paying them for more than eight months are close to a deal after local labour authorities intervened after union and government pressure

The vessel Srakane has been laid up in Sao Sebastiao channel, near Sao Paulo, for more than a month. Its 16 crew are owed more than $200,000 and some have been on board more than a year

BRAZIL has stepped into a dispute involving the crew of a cargoship who claim they have not been paid by its owner for eight months.

The Panama-flagged, 5,896 dwt Srakane has been laid up in Brazil’s Sao Sebastiao channel north of Ilhabela since June 2. Its crew claim they are owed more than $200,000.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation said the 16 mostly Ukrainian crew refused to leave the vessel, which came to Brazil from Morocco, until they are paid.

The union has demanded the crew be paid, pointing to the lack of government safety nets for their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local media reports say supplies on board the vessel are running out and conditions are deteriorating. The ship had previously spent a month at the port of Salvadore waiting for cargo, increasing tensions.

ITF inspector Renialdo de Freitas said Brazilian federal labour authorities stepped in after pressure from the union and Ukraine’s consulate.

He said a charterer had paid to provision the crew while it was laid up, and Ukrainian crew who left the vessel last year were yet to be paid.

The shipowner, Nikola Micunovic, said he was unable to pay wages because of coronavirus lockdowns in Europe.

He disputed details of the ITF’s account and said a deal had been made to pay and repatriate the crew in the coming days.

Mr Micunovic, of Malta-registered Oceans Wide Ltd, said the company itself had provisioned the crew and given documents to the authorities. “We are doing our best and finally sorting out [the] difficult situation we are in,” he said.

The authorities brokered a deal this week for a third-party charterer to pay the crew’s outstanding wages and repatriation costs, but Lloyd’s List understands the money has not yet changed hands.

The Brazilian labour inspector handling the case could not be reached for comment close to publication.

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