The two largest Indian Unions today issued a statement showing growing support for a unified protest against the “Appeal” judgement which sent the Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit to a Korean jail.
this is the state of the deck of the Hebei Spirit, awash with oil, shortly after the Samsung No 1 crane barge repeatedly smashed into the port side of the VLCC, breaching 3 tanks and causing structural damage to the deck of the tank.
The Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit are in a Korean jail, for not moving quickly enough in conditions shown in accompanying photo, to which a 5 degree starboard list was added (Korean wanted 10deg, but they weren't anywhere near the deck).
In an historic meeting today the Unions and ship owners Associations got together in an unique display of solidarity against the judgement of the South Korean Court which found Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan guilty. Both the seafarers were on board the ship "Hebei Spirit" which was at safe anchorage at South Korean waters, which was collided by a tug-towed crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries resulting in an oil spill.
Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan were detained since December, 2007 in South Korea. Despite being proved innocent on 23rd June, 2008 by the Court. The matter went into appeal. Justice was denied when the judgement, which was delivered on December 10th 2008, found Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan guilty and sentenced them for 18 months and 8 months respectively.
The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Maritime Union of India (MUI), both seafarers Associations, have already approached more than two hundred thousand seafarers and their families to boycott Korean products especially Samsung. Today they were joined by the Transport & Dock Workers Union represented by Mr. S. R. Kulkarni, All India Railwaymen Federation represented by Mr. Umraomal Purohit, Aviation Industries Employees Guild represented by Mr. George Abraham. Mr. Mahendra Sharma of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Shipowners Associations i.e. FOSMA, MASSA, INSA, CMMI, Nautical Institutes also attended the meeting. The following has been decided:
1. Indian Shipping fraternity will fight with all its might against the unfair judgement which was delivered against Capt. Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan in South Korea.
2. Demand for effective intervention by the Government of India through Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs.
3. Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International have also been approached.
4. Call for appeal to seafarers to boycott the Korean products especially Samsung has been renewed.
A massive Rally has been planned at 4.00 pm on Tuesday, 23rd December, 2008 at Azad Maidan, Opp. Mahanagar Palika, Mumbai. The seafarers and their family members and family members of Capt. Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan will also be present in the Rally. The demonstration is for justice and release of the two seafarers of the ship "Hebei Spirit" who are victims of criminilisation of seafarers.
Similar demonstrations have also been planned at Chennai and Delhi. This issue is no longer national but has become international. If the efforts do not give the required results then the agitation can further intensify which can affect transportation of Korean goods in India.
Abdulgani Y. Serang
General Secretary / Treasurer
National Union of Seafarers of India
The Maritime Union of India
The Maritime Union of India