Twenty-one Filipino sailors and a Pakistani captain abandoned on a cargo vessel in Maltese waters by their financially stricken mother company have successfully pleaded for a Maltese court to issue a warrant for the ship’s arrest.

The request for the warrant against the MV A Ladybug was filed on behalf of the crew last Wednesday by local International Transport Workers’ Federation representative Paul Falzon.

Disgruntled crew members are claiming €117,656 in unpaid wages from their Taiwan-based mother company, Today Makes Tomorrow.

The crew’s claims are simple and legitimate

With the ship under arrest, the crew is now able to file a lawsuit in Malta against the vessel for their unpaid wages and repatriation, Mr Falzon explained.

The vessel was granted access to Maltese waters on August 10 after being stranded “for months” due to problems with wages, food provisions, fuel and water, according to the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs.

The crew’s ordeal has made national headlines in the Philippines over recent weeks. Mr Falzon said the notice of arrest was personally delivered to the crew last Wednesday by a court official who travelled by boat.

He hoped the mother company would now settle the dispute without the need for further legal action, which could ultimately result in the court ordering the sale of the ship.

The MV A Ladybug is a 232-metre-long vehicle carrier whose value far exceeds the claims of the crew, even when legal and repatriation costs are taken into account, Mr Falzon pointed out.

“The crew’s claims are simple and legitimate. We are hopeful that the mother company will now agree to pay their wages and send a replacement crew,” he said.

Even sailors whose contracts had not expired would be entitled to repatriation as their contracts had been breached by the mother company, he added.

Mr Falzon would only file the lawsuit if the crew instructed him to do so.

Today Makes Tomorrow is known to be having severe financial difficulties and it sought bankruptcy protection from a US Federal court on June 21.

Since it had not fulfilled its obligations to the crew, Transport Malta has so far supplied two deliveries of fuel and drinking water to the ship.

The Filipino Embassy based in Rome has also delivered supplies and vowed to assist the seamen with repatriation when they had settled their claims.

“I am concerned not only about the crew but also their families back home,” Mr Falzon said.

“The crew have shelter and food, but some of their families will be surviving on very little money until they receive their wages.”

The MV A Ladybug is not carrying any cargo as it had finished its last delivery.

Its last known port of call was Istanbul, according to marinetraffic.com.

Yesterday it was located some nine nautical miles east of Marsascala.

Mr Falzon said cases such as the MV A Ladybug occurred in Maltese waters more often than many realised.

The local branch of the International Transport Workers’ Federation had been directly or indirectly involved in the recovery of more than €1 million in unpaid wages this year, he said.

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