A High Court judge has expressed concern for the 17-member crew of a cargo ship detained in Dublin Port since last March who have not been paid since late last year.
The crew, represented by the International Transport Workers Federation, had brought proceedings against the owner of the MV Clipper Faith for unpaid wages of approximately $320,000.
The ship's owner, the Liberian-registered Afternoon Maritime, said it lacked funds to pay the crew, who are largely from Russia and Ukraine.
Mr Justice Paul Butler yesterday expressed concern about the crew's situation and made various orders including one allowing the ship to be sold to cover the wage debts.
Donnachadh Woulfe, for the crew, said the owners had consented to the court granting judgment in favour of the crew for $320,000, plus $1,844 for every additional day they spent in Ireland, plus their repatriation expenses.
As there was no prospect of his clients being paid by the owners, the crew also wanted orders aimed at securing sale of the vessel, he said.
The Belize-registered ship was arrested in Dublin Port last March on foot of a claim made against it by Amsterdam Trade Bank, which holds a mortgage over the vessel. The bank’s proceedings against the owners are pending before the High Court.
Ciarán Lewis, for the bank, said it intended to apply to the court to have the crew’s interest in the ship assigned to it. Should the High Court grant that application, the bank would pay the crew’s outstanding wages and costs of their repatriation.
Lawyers for the owners, who consented to the judgment being made in favour of the crew, opposed an order allowing the vessel to be sold on grounds including it would interfere with their property rights. While the crew were owed some $320,000 plus, the ship was worth more than $9.5 million.
It was argued an order allowing the ship to be sold would prevent the owners procuring a “white knight” with the money required to discharge what was owed.
Mr Justice Butler said he would make the orders sought by the crew, including for the sale of the ship. This was about working people who had not been paid what they were due.
He agreed to put a stay until Tuesday pending any appeal to the Supreme Court.
Ken Fleming of the ITWF later expressed concern about the crew's position and said he feared they might have to spend several more months in Ireland before they got paid and could get home.The crew had 41 dependants in Ukraine and Russia, he added.