The last of a group of 12 seafarers who have been trapped in the north-east for more than a year due to unpaid wages will finally be able to go home to India this month, after the boat they worked on was sold.
A routine inspection in June last year revealed that the Malaviya Seven’s crew had not been paid in months.
Since then the men have been unable to return to their families in Mumbai due to fears they could forfeit the more than £612,000 owed to them by the ship’s owners GOL Offshore, an Indian company currently in liquidation.
In September, permission was granted by Aberdeen Sheriff Court to sell the vessel to recoup the wages owed to the crew, prompting half of the crew to fly home.
But after an auction last month only resulted in bids far below the money required to pay the men, doubts were cast on whether or not the rest would be able to leave.
However, an offer was accepted yesterday by the courts, which will be enough to pay the men their wages.
Captain Ashish Prabhakar was one of the two men able to finally take an early flight back to India this morning from Aberdeen Airport.
The remaining seafarers will leave the north-east within the next 10 days.
Captain Prabhakar said: “We’re delighted to go, and equally delighted the ship has sold and we will get whatever is due to us.
“The first thing I will do is hug my family. We have been here for almost 450 days now, and every day we have met incredible people in Aberdeen.
“We have made many memories with so many people who took us out into Aberdeen, and into their homes out of the kindness of their hearts.
“We will miss Aberdeen and its people, and will miss the memories, but it’s finally over now.”
Liam Wilson, from the International Transport Worker’s Federation said: “I’m disgusted that it was even allowed to come to this. The exploitation of non-EU nationals is blatant, but completely disregarded.
“We are committed to stamping this exploitation out of the industry.”