A handful of B.C. groups are banding together to bring food, gear and some much-needed distraction to the stranded crew of the Hanjin Scarlet.
Thirteen crewmembers are on the vessel, which is anchored off Saturna Island. Some of those on board have been stuck on the ship since August 31, when the Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for bankruptcy. Although the cargo was offloaded in Vancouver over a month ago, crewmembers are in limbo as they can’t come on shore without being arrested.
“I think crew morale is really low,” said Kevin Lee, vice-president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union.
The BCFMWU, the International Transportation Workers’ Federation, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Victoria Filipino Canadian Association are working together to get the gear and gifts to the Filipino and South Korean crewmembers December 20.
Packages will consist of warm clothing and other cold weather gear, food and cash for crewmembers to send home to their families. The groups will also be bringing DVDs, games and communications equipment, including a laptop and unlocked cellphones.
“All their gear is pretty much bashed up,” Lee said.
The Filipino Association has organized to bring a roasted pig, homemade desserts and Filipino newspapers on board.
Lee said the groups have been in contact with the Hanjin crew through ITF’s Peter Lahay. Lahay, who conceived the idea for the mission, has been working with Jason Woods of the ILWU and Lee to carry out the project.
Lee said some of the goods and transportation are being donated by local companies, including B.C. Ferries and Tymac Launch Service.
Before filing for receivership, Hanjin was the seventh-largest container cargo shipping company in the world. The economic consequences of the bankruptcy are as yet incalculable, but given the size of the shipping company, could be considerable.
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