The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) inspectors have recovered $118,529,663 in wages owed to seafarers between 2020 and 2022, according to figures published on World Maritime Day.
It revealed that more than $36 million was paid back to seafarers in 2022 alone.
ITF inspectors are officials who board vessels to educate seafarers on their rights, identify any violations of crew contracts, national laws, or international conventions, and then work with authorities to see if rights are enforced.
It has inspectors operating out of 111 ports in 56 countries. It discovered that about 2,199 breaches of contract cases were reported by seafarers to the ITF in 2022, with non-payment of wages as the most common reason.
“While we are proud that our inspectors have been successful in recovering almost $120 million for seafarers in the last three years, it’s unfortunate that we need to address wage underpayments at all. We would prefer to see all seafarers paid in full, and paid on time in the first place,” said David Heindel, ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair and President of the Seafarers International Union.
According to Heindel, “For some seafarers, a shipowner might miss a pay date here or there, but others can go months without receiving their salaries. ITF inspectors, supported by our seafarer and docker union affiliates, are here to help crew stand up for their rights wherever they find themselves in need of support.
In 2022, ITF’s inspectors conducted 8,667 ship inspections worldwide and 1,878 of these were in response to seafarers’ calls, emails, or messages for help from the ITF.
A further 3,771 were conducted as part of inspectors’ ongoing system of routine and responsive inspections, which ensure ships flagged to Flags of Convenience (FOC) registries adhere to the same international standards expected of nationally flagged vessels.
Paddy Crumlin, president and dockers’ section Chair at ITF, said: “Pandemic-related restrictions had blocked most of our inspectors from boarding vessels in the way they had done pre-pandemic. We are now seeing a strong return to active and regular inspections of Flags of Convenience vessels – and still the same level of exploitation. It’s another stark reminder of the underbelly of our industry, and also that more ITF inspections taking place is good news for seafarers and their rights.”