History repeats itself as another Malaviya Twenty crew is left stranded in Great Yarmouth without pay
PUBLISHED: 17:25 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 08 December 2017
The captain of an offshore supply vessel which has been stranded in Great Yarmouth since June 2016 has told how he and his crew have not received any wages in six months.
Nikesh Rastogr is the current captain of the Malaviya Twenty and has been living and working aboard the vessel since February.
However, since July, neither he nor his crew of seven have received any wages, with their last pay packet arriving in June.
Mr Rastogr, 43, said three of the crew, who arrived in September and are contracted until March, had not been paid at all.
He said: “There is no rational reason for us not to have been paid - we are all employees with contracts. The moment you begin giving reasons, you give an excuse.”
Mr Rastogr, who is from Mumbai, said the men are left to spend the vast majority of their time watching films, taking online education courses and carrying out routine maintenance of the vessel which is berthed by Haven Bridge.
He added: “I do not naturally get distressed - I think as captain it is part of my job not to, for the sake of my crew.
“At a certain age you have seen enough to know that if you have your health you learn to count your blessings.
“However, a few of the men have young families at home and for them it has been a struggle.”
The vessel is currently at the centre of a court dispute in India, between the ICICI Bank which owns the ship and a liquidator, over who receives the proceeds of a potential sale.
However, the vessel has been arrested by the port authority, who also have the option to sell it.
A ruling brought in this week, however, has meant that Mr Rastogr, along with four of his crew, are able to return home to India within the next week - with four new members being brought in the relieve them.
At the end of August, the crew sought the help of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which has been supporting them along with the port authority ever since.
Mr Rastogr added: “I owe a huge thanks to the ITF and the port for their support. Peel Ports has been paying for our food and fuel and I have great faith that the ITF will ensure we receive our unpaid wages.
“Thanks to them we have had enough food and still do - I’m just please some of us will be home in time for Christmas.”
History repeating itself
This is the second time in the past year that a crew on this particular vessel has failed to receive its wages.
In July 2016, the Malavia Twenty was detained by the ITF union and the Maritime Coastguard Agency after its owners failed to make payments to the crew.
An original crew of 12 men were left without pay for more than six months and were unable to leave Great Yarmouth.
Almost exactly a year ago to the day, port chaplain Peter Payne launched a plea to bring some festive joy to the crew - appealing for the public to donate food, gifts and toiletries for the men.
The town responded with aplomb and on Christmas Eve he delivered a dozen bags to the men, with an overwhelming level of support given to the 12 men.
Both the port chaplain and the ITF fought to secure the wages after the vessel was placed under arrest and on February 21, the crew were flown home to India - to be replaced by the current crew.
Paul Keenan, the ITF inspector responsible for the case has condemned both the vessel’s owners and the liquidators for allowing the crew to go without pay.
Mr Keenan, who was instrumental in helping the previous crew, described their ordeal as “a disgrace”.
He said: “I could not believe it when I got the call. It is a disgrace that both the liquidators and the bank have put the legal row ahead of the welfare of the crews.
“The port must have spent thousands on providing food and fuel and even the vessel just being there is costing money.”
Mr Keenan said there was now two possible resolutions - either the Indian court makes a ruling between the bank and the liquidator or the port - which has the vessel under arrest - sells it itself.
He added: “I am hoping it will all be done and dusted by the new year.”
The same ordeal has been suffered by crews aboard a sister vessel - Malaviya Seven - based in Aberdeen.