Russian crew mutiny on Latvian ship

The 20 strong Russian crew of the Merchant Brilliant mutinied on the 20th February, dropping anchor, and barricading themselves onboard in a protest that lasted four days.

The sailors claimed they were owed a total US$167,000 in back pay, and were complaining about excessive hours and bad relationships with management. Initially the crew were seeking to have the vessel arrested. The Merchant Brilliant was three miles off the British coast when the mutiny took place. The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) sent two inspectors on board to negotiate a deal, which has now been agreed.

"The crewmembers were being sent from pillar to post. However, they were finally paid outstanding wages of $137,000, less than the original amount sought as a result of the withdrawal of claims by seven of the crew," said Ken Fleming of the ITF.

The Latvian owners, ADG Shipping had the sister ship to the Merchat Brilliant, the Merchant Bravery, impounded in Dublin last year, also over a wages dispute.

The ship was being chartered by Norfolkline, which has since terminated the agreement. A statement from the firm said, "The charter agreement between Norfolkline and the owner of the Merchant Brilliant, ADG, clearly stipulates that the vessel be operated in accordance with ITF guidelines."

The crew have since flown back home and a new crew is being flown out from Russia.

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