Image Courtesy: Hamburg hafen-HHM/Dietmar Hasenpusch
Image Courtesy: Hamburg hafen-HHM/Dietmar Hasenpusch

The US authorities have been criticized by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) due to the refusal of shore leave to seafarers on board Hanjin ships in the USA as a denial of human rights.

The issue was revealed during a visit to the chartered vessel Hanjin Marine by ITF inspector Jeff Engels who was checking on the crew’s welfare on September 26, three weeks after they have waited for a berth.

ITF said that, although the crew are being paid and there is two months’ food onboard, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were refusing them shore leave saying that the crew “was a possible threat to try and jump ship due to the Hanjin situation,” Engels noted.

At their 18:00 crew shift change the crew decided to make the situation public and stood at the gangway flying a banner stating “We deserve shore leave”.

“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. The CBP needs to reconsider and fix this problem now,” ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin, said.

After the South Korean shipping firm Hanjin Shipping filed for court receivership on August 31, a number of its vessels were denied access to ports, while other shipping companies decided to cut all ties with the financially-troubled carrier.