Dispute partially settled in strike that saw sailors without food for 2 weeks.
Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014 04:15 pm
OSHAWA, Ont. - A labour dispute that saw a cargo ship with 18 sailors and their captain stuck in Canada for two weeks without food and water has been partially resolved.
A union said Tuesday eight of the Romanian sailors and their Russian captain on a ship in the Port of Oshawa, Ont., have been given three months' worth of wages that were owed them.
Seafarers' International Union of Canada added they will be flying home, while the others will stay to handle cargo the crew wouldn't deliver during their strike that began Friday.
"We've gotten confirmation that April, May and June wages are paid for," said Vince Giannopoulos, an inspector for the union. "We're just waiting for the crewing agency to issue visas so the crew can travel."
Giannopoulos said the cargo — 18,000 tonnes of steel pipes and coils — is "the only leverage" the crew had after it was "abandoned" by the ship's owner, German firm Intersee, which he said is undergoing financial problems.
The Fritz arrived from Europe, and was anchored off the coast of Cornwall, Ont., since mid-June while the crew went without any contact with the ship's owner, he said.
It entered the Port of Oshawa, Ont., on Thursday.
If they were to unload the cargo, the sailors' employer would have nothing to lose if they simply not pay them, Giannopoulos said.
Intersee, which he said provided the wages along with a liquidation firm, did not respond to requests for comment.
Giannopoulos said the sailors went without food and water for two weeks and got so desperate they yelled at passing fishermen for gear so they could catch something to eat, though supplies were later delivered by supporters.
He added that two-thirds of the cargo will be offloaded locally, while the other third will make for Toledo, Ohio., though the details of the remaining sailors' involvement are yet uncertain.
Negotiations are still ongoing, Giannopoulos said, and it may hinge on when the nine get home as the sailors have strong bonds.
"They're not going to sail anywhere until their brothers are settled," he said.
Port CEO Donna Taylor said the port contacted the local Romanian community and a sailors' welfare charity, which provided the sailors with food and supplies.
"I've been here for 37 years and I have never ever had this happen," she added.
— By Ethan Lou in Toronto