Ship’s crew continues wage battle

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Independent Newspapers

The case of two men accused of stealing a man's cellphone and raping him has been postponed.

The fate of a Sri Lankan crew, who have brought an application to sell a cargo ship on which they worked, is now in the hands of the Durban High Court.

The crew have brought the court action to have the dilapidated Sri Lankan ship, Lanka Mahapola, sold so they could recover their wages, about $85 000 (R705 500).

An interim order was granted in the Durban High Court authorising the sale of the ship by public auction, but this is yet to be made final.

The sailors are living in Durban pending the application’s outcome.

Their attorney, Struan Mundell, said in court papers that the men had not been paid for at least three months by the ship’s owner, the Ceylon Shipping Company.

Mundell said all but five crew members’ employment contracts had expired. “Despite repeated requests to sign off and return home, the owner has failed to allow them to do so. They have not received wages for three to four months, which indicates that the company is in severe financial difficulties.”

He said the crew had “drifted about” without work for three months this year.

Two weeks ago 13 of them were arrested for theft after they tried to sell scrap metal from the ship in Durban. The charges were later withdrawn.

Mundell described their arrest as an “effort to prevent the men from exercising their rights”.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday. - Daily News


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