A Catholic bishop and several maritime chaplains in the Philippines appealed for compassion for 30 Filipino seafarers stranded in Australia and reportedly abandoned by their Chinese vessel employer.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Stella Maris Philippines and its chaplains nationwide made the call as they condemned what they call “despicable exploitation” of the seafarers.
“We deplore this unjust treatment of the vulnerable crews, currently stranded in Australia, whose only dream is to give their families a better life,” they said in a statement.
“We pray that our seafarers may be given immediate assistance and every effort be made to protect their rights.”
“We are also hopeful for their fair remuneration, not only the unpaid wages for their services rendered but also for the sacrifices they endured,” they added.
The livestock carrier Yangtze Fortune has been anchored near Portland since October and has been facing Australian court proceedings brought by Singaporean commercial creditors to recover debts owed to them by the shipowner.
Supplies on board the ship are running low and many of the crew are desperate to get home, but must stay with the ship to wait for the court ruling, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
“These workers are already owed, collectively, more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid wages, and while the court action is on foot they must stay with their ship despite the ever diminishing prospect of receiving what is owed to them” said ITF Australian Inspectorate Coordinator Ian Bray.
Bishop Santos said they will continue to pray and offer Masses for the safety, sound health, and peaceful voyage back home of the seafarers.