ITF: Crew Claim Exploitation and Discrimination
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has been contacted by current and ex-crew members from Blumenthal vessels who have allegedly recounted stories of intimidation, threats and abusive conditions on board the German shipping company’s global fleet.
The Blumenthal whistleblowers, who have requested to remain anonymous, recounted cases of forced overtime, withholding of wages, discrimination based on nationality and a lack of access essential provisions like food and water.
“We are forced to work more than the normal working hours and [overtime] is not paid … engine ratings are forced to do mooring operations and if something bad happened, they will not compensate with the involved crew. A lot of unpaid extra jobs … They have fixed wages for us so even if we do a lot of [overtime] and extra jobs, we are paid the same amount monthly,” said one seafarer.
“They are also forcing to sign a waiver before arriving in a port with strong ITF union that states, we the crew of a certain vessel do not want to join the union, and they are threatening us that if we report to the union they will sue us.
“The provisions are also worst. They'll send a supply for one month and will spend it for two months. Vegetables are limited and some fruits and provisions are given only for the officers. The allotment is always late and no cash advance on board,” he added.
Another seafarer complained about access to basic provisions: “We have only one case water [remaining] and now captain propose to us to drink tank water but that water even not good for washing.”
The ITF claim follows the detention of Blumenthal’s Anna Elisabeth at Port Kembla in Australia on March 26, after an inspection revealed serious deficiencies in manning, seafarers employment agreements, access to shore leave and food provisions.
Last month, the ITF launched a targeted operation against the company Johann M. K. Blumenthal which will see the ITF's network of 147 inspectors inspecting the Blumenthal fleet in ports around the world.