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Finnish Seafarers' Union blockades ship in port of Rauma amid wage dispute

The union says seamen on the Panamanian-flagged vessel have been treated as virtual prisoners.

Hamnen i Raumo.
Port of Rauma. Image: YLE/Anssi Leppänen

The Finnish Seafarers' Union has imposed a blockade on a merchant ship in the port of Rauma, taking the action in support of seamen on board who are claiming an estimated 70,000 euros in unpaid wages.

The Panamanian-flagged ES Venus is believed to be Chinese-owned and docked in Rauma to load recycling materials for shipment to Turkey.

Half of the crew are Myanmarese and the other half are Chinese. According to the Finnish Seamen's Union, the Myanmarese workers have been oppressed on board.

"Police assistance was needed today because the ship's captain did not want to let six seamen off the ship to meet with us," the union's ITF Seafarers' Trust coordinator Kenneth Bengts said.

The union's aim is to repatriate the men after they have received their wages.

"Exceptionally egregious"

Finnish Seafarers' Union has described the case of the ship under blockade in the port of Rauma as being exceptionally egregious. Bengts told Yle that the situation is one of the worst he has encountered in his career.

"Seamen were practically held captive on board," he said.

The blockade has not so far interfered with other normal operations at the port.

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