The maritime professionals’ union Nautilus International has secured a ‘milestone’ payment for crew members owed more than US$1m wages after the superyacht on which they are working was abandoned by its Indian multi-millionaire owner.
The Union has now had the 95m vessel Indian Empress arrested in Malta as it makes further attempts to recover an additional US$330,000 in unpaid wages and other costs on behalf of its members. In all, there are more than 40 crew on the yacht and individuals are owed anything between $6,250 to more than $92,000.
The Isle of Man-flagged superyacht was abandoned in September last year after the owner, Vijay Mallya – whose business empire include Kingfisher beer and the Force India Formula One team – was arrested in the UK following the Indian’s government request for his extradition to stand trial over an alleged debt of more than 90bn rupees (£1bn).
Nautilus has made use of the provisions of the international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to secure the payment of four months’ unpaid wages, totalling more than $615,000. In line with the ‘safety net’ financial security provisions of the convention, the Union ensured that these payments were made to the crew by the Norwegian protection and indemnity insurance specialists Skuld last week.
Now the Union has arrested the superyacht in Malta to enforce a maritime lien seeking the payment of further outstanding wages and other costs over and above the amounts covered by the MLC.
‘Our members onboard gave their employer and the shipowner multiple opportunities to pay monthly wages, displaying a loyalty and restraint greater than many would show in such situations,’ said strategic organiser Danny McGowan. ‘These opportunities were regularly ignored by the owner, leaving us with no option but to take the case to the courts.’
‘The superyacht sector is seen as one of glamour and glitz, but the sad reality is that crew members can experience exploitation and abuse and that is why Nautilus has become increasingly involved in such justice cases,’ said director of legal services Charles Boyle.
‘Our ability to enforce the financial security provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention – for the first time in the superyacht industry – shows the vital importance of this international measure and the “safety net” amendments which were introduced to protect crew members,’ he added.