Maldivian ship crew on strike claiming two years of unpaid wages

The Maldivian crew of the cargo ship Gateway Prestige have gone on strike, claiming to be owed Rf 1 million (US$64,800) for two years of unpaid salaries.

Managing Director of Gateway Shipping, Mohamed Shareef, told newspaper Haveeru that he had informed police his vessel had been hijacked by his crew and requested an investigation.

“They don’t want to leave the ship, or set off, or allow anyone else on the ship. How can they work on the ship if they were not paid for two years? They wouldn’t have stayed,” Shareef told Haveeru.

The newspaper spoke to the vessel’s captain, Ibrahim Zahir, who said that as of April 2011 he was owed Rf522,000, the chief engineer Rf400,000 and the helmsman Rf100,000. He said they had been stranded twice in an Indian port without food, but had decided to finally go on strike after they were ordered to sea again after unloading in Male’.

“We stayed on the ship despite not getting paid for two years because those who left their jobs didn’t get paid a single penny. Every time the owner says due to the current situation we can’t be paid, but that they’ll pay us when things settle down,” he told the newspaper.

Police are conducting negotiations.