Maritime union Nautilus has finally settled a long battle to secure almost €1 million in unpaid wages for the crew members working aboard 95-metre (312-foot) M/Y Indian Empress prior to its abandonment one year ago.
Since then, Nautilus has been representing the interests of those employed to work on the yacht, which was arrested in Malta in March this year.
Initially its team of legal experts managed to secure $615,000 in owed wages following discussions with the superyacht’s P&I club under the terms of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)’s financial security provisions. The financial security amendments to the MLC were brought into effect in January 2017, stipulating that owners must have financial security in place to cover the abandonment of crew, as well as death or long-term disability due to occupational injury or hazard.
In September the vessel was sold in a private sale to Sea Beauty Yachting for €35 million after an initial sale fell through. The yacht was originally scheduled to be re-auctioned after the previous winning bidder, Crediyacht, which was representing an Iranian buyer, failed to produce the winning bid price of €43.5 million in time.
However, the Maltese Court sanctioned a private sale of the yacht for €35 million before the second auction could take place. Crediyacht was not permitted to participate in the second auction and ordered to pay the difference in sale price. The new owners have renamed the yacht NEOM.
Since the sale, Nautilus’s lawyers have been working closely with court authorities in Malta in an effort to see crew paid the remainder of their outstanding wages, as part of the process to pay all the creditors. Among the creditors include suppliers, service providers and financiers who were owed money by the owner.
These negotiations have seen $290,426 secured for crew, with an average individual payment of $20,745.
Charles Boyle, head of legal services at Nautilus, has expressed his delight at concluding the case.
“It has been a complicated process, which was not helped by the first sale falling through,” he noted. “However, it has demonstrated the importance of the Maritime Labour Convention’s financial security amendments, which meant that the P&I club Skuld paid up to four months’ wages owed to crew members earlier this year. Had those provisions not been there, the members would not have received this money […]”
Yachting Pages’ coverage of the Indian Empress saga can be found here.