Gateway Prestige, a cargo ship owned by Gateway Shipping, has been taken over by its crew, claiming that they have not been paid their salaries for two years.
Ibrahim Zahir, the captain of the boat currently moored in Male, said the crew’s salary for most of 2008 and 2009 had not been paid and the company owes about a million Rufiyaa in salary payments.
“Up till last April, the company owes me alone Rf522,000, the chief engineer Rf400,000 and they owe the helmsman around Rf100,000” he said.
The crew had asked the company to settle their salaries the last month they had docked in Male to unload the cargo, but were ordered to set off again without any relevant reply, prompting the crew to express their unhappiness by disobeying orders.
Zahir said they had been stranded twice in an Indian port without food but decided against leaving the ship, as they were not paid their dues.
“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 said.
Zahir said the crew would not leave until they were either paid or fired from their jobs.
Managing Director of Gateway Shipping Mohamed Shareef said today that he had reported to the police that his crew had taken siege of his ship and asked for an investigation to be launched.
“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,” he said.
Shareef said if it was really about payment then the crew could have talked to the company instead of making it a media campaign.