You might think that this is the script for the next horror film in theaters. Nine sailors have been confined since last Friday on a 50-meter-long boat that broke down just a stone's throw from the French coast, between Lorient and the Île de Groix. Tension rose on Sunday between sailors of seven different nationalities (Syrian, Cypriot, Romanian, Greek, Burmese, Finnish and Georgian). As food ran out on board, the three Georgian sailors asked the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) for help. Their fellows did not appreciate this SOS and made it known with blows. A fight reportedly broke out on board.
This icebreaker ship named “Sky III” left the port of Rotterdam for the Cypriot coast, before being forced to anchor near Lorient due to “propulsion damage”. The boat, built in 1966, has just been bought by a shipowner who wanted to carry out repairs in Cyprus. Contacted by the ITF, the shipowner undertook to deliver the parts necessary for the proper functioning of the boat as quickly as possible, as well as food to meet the needs of its employees. “The arrival of food is still delayed by weather problems,” informs Laure Talloneau, maritime inspector for the ITF and member of the CGT, in liaison with the sailors on board.
The three Georgian sailors beg to be landed and paid. They found a relay on dry land with the CGT des Marins du Grand Ouest. The union denounces a “gruesome” and “shameful” situation and appeals to the authorities. “The salary arrears are considerable, because no salary has been received since the start of their contract,” indicates the union. Laure Talloneau specifies that the boat flies the Tanzanian flag, “one of the worst flags in the world” in terms of respect for international law. “It is very rare to see boats with the Tanzanian flag in Europe because they are so rotten,” she adds.
Laure Talloneau and the CGT are in unison demanding an inspection of the boat, both technical and social, before issuing any authorization to return to Cyprus. “Who will dare to sign the document allowing him to return to sea?”, the CGT fumes in a press release, crying “social dumping” and protesting that such a ship (a “wreck” under their pen) was authorized to return to sea. Contacted, the maritime prefecture did not respond immediately to our request.