ITF/CAW Seek Help for Stranded Russian Sailors

November 4, 2010, 10:47 AM EST

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A group of 50 Russian and Ukrainian sailors stranded in St. John's, Newfoundland are anxiously awaiting funds to return home and more than $330,000 in back wages which the International Transport Workers Federation is seeking on their behalf.

The Russian vessel Lyubov Orlova is a cruise ship which has been stranded in St. John's since September 25. It was seized by Canadian officials because its owner owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Canadian charter cruise company Cruise North Expeditions, which conducts adventure tourism trips to the Canadian Arctic.

ITF/CAW spokesperson Gerard Bradbury was asked by the Russian Seafarers Union to help the crew of 50 sailors when the vessel was stranded and they were left without pay or a way home.

Bradbury said the crew, who have been forced to live on the ship, didn't have proper food and other supplies. He said CAW Local 597, which represents grocery store workers in St. John's, and retired CAW National Executive Board member Bill King, have been working hard collecting food and other supplies needed by the sailors.

"It means so much to these Russian seafarers," said Bradbury. "The people of St. John's have done a great job."

Bradbury is anxiously awaiting word if there has been a sale of the vessel. If a sale has not occurred before November 8 then the case could head to a court as the crew seeks their back wages. They have not been paid since April.

Only a handful of the crew have been able to return home after family paid their way.

The CAW is a member union of the ITF, a global transport union federation representing 4.6 million transport workers in 155 countries.


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