SIU Urges Canada to Uphold Labour Rules for Foreign Crew

The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) has called on the Federal Government to uphold labour standards for foreign sailors after it found that the crew onboard a Singapore-flagged vessel were being paid less than CAD 2 per hour.

Seafarers aboard the chemical tanker Bro Anna, which has been active in Canadian waters since June 2017, could be making as little as CAD 1.46 (USD 1.17) per hour, the SIU informed.

Operating with a Cabotage waiver, the 19,900 cbm ship carries sailors from India, the Philippines, Poland, Romania and Russia, all of whom have permits to work in Canada.

“We have called upon Employment and Social Development Canada to visit this vessel and enforce the regulations pertaining to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program for this crew,” James Given, President of SIU Canada, said.

The SIU Canada, which has raised the case with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), has called on the Canadian authorities to detain the ship until the crew have received all the wages and benefits due to them under the Canada Labour Code.

“Temporary foreign workers aboard this vessel are being exploited and not given their rights while working in Canada. Once the Bro Anna departs Canada this crew will be at the mercy of the ship owner and in all probability will never see the rightful wages they are owed,” Given commented.

The tanker conducted its final voyage in Canada earlier in October. According to AIS data provided by Marine Traffic, as of October 10, the ship was sailing on the St. Lawrence River on its way from Montreal, Canada to the port of Finnart in UK, where it is scheduled to arrive on October 22.

The amount owed to the crew totals USD 418,000. The union says that the government of Canada must work swiftly “to ensure the crew receives their hard-earned wages and are not subjected to labour abuse.”