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Arrested crew of Independent in Shoreham Port are ‘treated like slaves’
The captain of a cargo vessel ‘arrested’ in a port since the start of the year said his crew have been treated like slaves.
Russian Mikhail Polyakov is captain of the Independent, a cargo ship registered in Comoros in Africa has been docked in Shoreham Port since January 8.
The ship has been arrested by the Admiralty Marshal, a branch of the Ministry of Justice, due to unpaid fuel bills.
This means the vessel is prevented from moving or trading while a resolution of the outstanding claim is found.
Mr Polyakov hasn’t been paid a salary for six months and is owed £17,715 in wages from the ship’s owners Independent Shipping, whose director is Steve Dudman.
He is also the director of Dudman Group of Companies, a building material firm which operates from opposite the seized ship.
Now, after nearly eight months of waiting for a resolution, Mr Polyakov is pleading for help.He said: “We have not been paid our salary, which means we can’t send money back home to support our families. I have a wife and child back home who I am missing very much.
“There were eight crew members in total but now there are only two, because the others went home of their own accord – but they won’t get paid.
“We are in the position of slaves.”
Mr Polyakov and his one remaining crewmember, 32-year-old Ukranian Ignor Aleyvikos, have been living off donations and rations provided by the Apostleship of the Sea charity.
There is no electricity or fire pumps in use on the ship after the engineer crew members left, the men claim.
Neither Mr Polyakov or Mr Aleyvikos know how to use and maintain the electrics or fire safety equipment.
In total, Independent Shipping owes nearly £50,000 to eight crewmen in unpaid wages.
Despite this, Dudman Holdings still operates directly opposite the ship in Shoreham Port and is also recruiting new
A spokeswoman for Steve Dudman said, however, that Dudman Holdings is a separate financial entity to Independent Shipping.
Mr Polyakov added: “You can see the enterprise of Dudman is still working at full speed directly opposite our ship.
The dredger carrying the sand, the chartered vessels carrying cement and so on.
“I am absolutely sure if I leave without the salary I will never get my wages. This will be a royal gift to Mister Dudman.”
Chris Grosscurth, shipping manager at Independent Shipping, said: “What I will say is the crew are top priority. The crew are provided for. The wages are in arrears but we are working hard to find a resolution.”
A spokeswoman for Steve Dudman said: “The two remaining crew members on the Independent, including the Captain, are tending to the ship with the necessary daily requirements. They have not been asked to do any further tasks. They have been contacted regularly by a company representative who ensures they have food, water etc.”
“The electricity issue has been reassessed and reconfigured and is now back in action.
“The crewmen that left the Independent did so of their own will and while they have unfortunately not received their pay every effort is being made to see that they do.”
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