The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has slammed the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for denying seafarers from Hanjin Shipping vessels shore leave.
The issue, which the ITF describes as “a denial of human rights”, was flagged up by ITF inspector Jeff Engels after boarding the vessel Hanjin Marine in Seattle. While the crew of vessel had been paid and had enough food for two months they had been denied shore leave.
“I phoned them (CBP) several times,” Engels explained, “and had others phone them but they still insisted that the crew was a possible threat to try and jump ship due to the Hanjin situation. I countered with the fact that shore leave was a human right and that the seafarers should not be made to suffer due to the Hanjin situation, which had nothing to do with their simple desire to walk around, smell a tree and visit the local seafarers center’. They still did not budge.”
In protest the crew flew a banner on the vessel’s gangway saying “We deserve shore leave” and dock workers showed there support cheering and sounding horns.
“It should be inconceivable that they are being denied that right. We hope that wiser heads at the CBP will now prevail and they will be allowed ashore,” said ITF pPesident and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin.
“We understand that the last three Hanjin vessels that called in Southern California all had similar issues with shore leave. This is morally and legally unacceptable. These are professional seafarers, working in a professional manner, carrying out all their tasks responsibly, and hoping that the situation with Hanjin will be rectified without the loss of jobs. Denying them an escape from their work environment is an abuse of humanity,” he added.
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