Union steps in to aid abandoned crew of KY Venus

The KY Venus crew thanking the union for its part in getting them repatriated and their outstanding salaries paid. Credit: Korea Special Seafarers Union

 

Twenty seafarers who were stranded on a chemical tanker in Hong Kong for four months after the shipowner went bust have been paid outstanding salaries and been repatriated after the Korea Special Seafarers Union (KSSU) intervened.

 

The crew members, comprising six South Koreans, five Indonesians, and nine Myanmar nationals, manned the KY Venus, a 13,000 dwt chemical/products tanker owned by South Korean shipping company KS Marine Corp.

 

The KY Venus was arrested in Hong Kong on 25 April, following applications by KS Marine’s bunker suppliers and other trade creditors.

 

KSSU liaised with the relevant government bodies, M ShipManagement, which managed the KY Venus, and Japan P&I Club, which insured the tanker, so that the crew members could leave the vessel and be repatriated, as well as to settle any salaries owed to them.

The union also stayed in touch with the crew through its Hong Kong counterpart, the Hong Kong Seafarers Union.

 

Despite amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in January 2017 that state all ships subject to MLC must carry and display on board certificates confirming that financial security is in place for repatriation of crew, food, accommodation, and medical care and up to four months’ outstanding contractual wages in the event of abandonment, KSSU said that the situation on the KY Venus did not allow the various organisations to present solutions and make decisions. However, the KSSU persisted in working with its Hong Kong counterpart and relevant government bodies to secure the seafarers’ release.

Lee Sang-hoon, the captain of KY Venus, said, “I’m truly grateful that I was able to return safely, thanks to the union’s active intervention.”

 

Meanwhile, as KS Marine ceased operations due to heavy debt, the KY Venus was put up for sale through the Hong Kong courts.

 

After an unsuccessful first auction in early August, it was sold to Wilmar Ship Holdings Pte Ltd, the shipowning arm of Singapore-based agribusiness Wilmar International Ltd, at a subsequent auction later that month. The ship has been renamed Vega.

 

KSSU president Park Seong-yong said, “We hope that the laws pertaining to seafarers’ welfare could be revised to not only include financial guarantees for seafarers, but also make shipowners responsible employers who are liable for measures and procedures to ensure that seafarers are not neglected in such cases. The government should take the lead in ensuring this.”

 

Contact Xiaolin Zeng at arachelle0@gmail.com

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