Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Indian unions (shipping and non-shipping) call for Korean boycott

Multiple unions unite in protest against Hebei 2 jail terms – as movement gains momentum with Indian port boycott of Korean shipping and products, especially Samsung.

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

General Secretary
The Maritime Union of India


  1. Thoroughly endorse you work in supporting Capt. Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan against this totally unjust sentence and trying to get the South Korean authorities to release them. This is one step (among many) too far in the cynical criminalisation of professional and dedicated seafarers.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Until and unless the Flag State Authorities have properly trained accident investigators, who understand how to carry out a full and thorough root cause analysis, dreadful injustices like this will continue to occur. Untrained people will tend to extend the finger of blame and this will always muddy the water and disallow all the learning to be done which would help prevent recurrence.
    Captain John Wright, MD WrightWay Training (Human Factors & Accident Investigation trainers)

  4. I still don't see any coverage in the Indian press or media regarding this.

    Why not rope the media in (the way we did for the Stolt case) - it is the most effective way to put pressure.....

    Anyway patriotic feelings are high presently (with the shooting et al) and the media needs a change, a place where we Indians have been made underdogs.

  5. James Predergast, former ship's captain22 December 2008 at 13:45

    This is a complete travesty. Even the Nautical Institute has taken the unusual step of issuing a media statement criticising the appeal court's decision.
    SAMSUNG HEAVY INDUSTRIES should hang their heads in shame!

  6. The Government of India should take up the issue with South Korean Government at war footing because a single day in jail to both seafarers is undesirable. I call upon Indians to show national spirit, particularly the family members of the seafarers. The Indian Government should learn from Israel, U.S.A. and U.K. when it comes to its citizens. Indian Government normally shows callous attitude in such matters which the Indian citizen don't appreciate, We the citizen of India should teach /or wake up the Indian Gov. for action.

  7. Would it be possible to start an online petition (and link it to this page?

    The petition should be, simply, that we Indian seafarers refuse to sail to South Korea until Capt. Chawla and Mr. Chetan are released.

    We need to do more

  8. Captain Chowdhury25 January 2009 at 03:02

    Master and Crew can't be a Scape goat thru sub standard investigation.
    Regret to say that Korean investigators are inhuman with having very shallow knowledge and IMO should intervene before it gets too late during the era of shipping where quality of seafarers are leaving sea with much frustration and this large shipping industry will be proceeding thru nature of grave concern to bring back solid confidence within seafarers.
    The ship Management,respective families with Crew Union shud approach Prime Minister and foreign ministry like wise Socotra issue (Capt Goyal case)to find a better solution to release them, otherwise retaliation required within Korean company/interest in INDIA.
    Capt Ranjan Chowdhury