“In normal times we’re talking about guys who work for nine months straight, at very low wages. Now with COVID-19 we’ve got workers that have been on board ships for 13 or 14 months. They’re all trapped and they can’t get home to the Philippines, they can’t get home to India, to the Ukraine,” says Karl Risser, an International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspector here in Nova Scotia. .“It’s getting desperate. We’ve heard reports of seafarers jumping overboard, seafarers fighting, massive tension on board, because no one knows for how long they will be stuck there.”
A story about the wild west that is the shipping industry. ITF inspector Karl Risser about his recent encounter with a young Ukrainian sailor working for peanuts and the promise of a better future, maybe.
The sailors of the Dutch Runner, stranded in Port Hawkesbury, have been fully paid and are on their way home. “This is about five guys sticking together and not accepting what was in front of them,” says ITF inspector Karl Risser. “And it is also about other members of the labour movement stepping up to the plate.”
A ship with a crew of five is stuck in Port Hawkesbury while Karl Risser, an inspector for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is trying to resolve issues around unpaid wages, bad working conditions and ship safety. He sees a lot of this kind of thing, Risser explains, and trade agreements like CETA will only make it worse.