The Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Shipping Services, Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Va’ai has responded to rumors that the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is no longer hiring sailors from Samoa, and that a leaked internal email circulating on social media is only part of complex conversations being held.
The CEOs message is published in verbatim:
“The photograph of an email conversation between Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) crew manager for cargo vessels only, Rocco Maresca, in Naples and the Samoa Shipping Services (SSS) was deliberately leaked to sabotage the continuing negotiations between SSS and MSC which has resulted in the repatriation of Samoa sailors working for the Shipping Company. In addition, to set the record straight, MSC is still hiring Samoan sailors on the contrary of rumors on the coconut wires.
The leaked email which is circulating right now, is just part of a series of conversations on negotiations between the SSS and the MSC Management in ironing out and finding the best options not only for MSC but also for the Samoa Government for the safe return of Samoan sailors. These negotiations can be quite tense at times and understandably so considering the abnormal and very stressful circumstances we are forced to operate under due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The four repatriation flights scheduled this month will include returning Samoan sailors who have ended their contracts with MSC or had requested to come home. The first flight is scheduled to arrive this Friday, 13th of November 2020 followed by the second charter flight on 27th November 2020 from Los Angeles to Apia. And tentatively two repatriation flights are scheduled for December, preferably before Christmas time.
Over 170 sailors will be brought back home before November ends. The process in getting them home had to be in line with all available flights, so finding the window opportunity was difficult but not impossible.
Presently there are 323 Samoan sailors working overseas. 259 working on cruise ships and 64 on container vessels. The normal process requires crew change to replace the returned sailors on top of the recently requested 80 additional employment on MSC cruise vessels, and SSS continues to work with MSC and local authorities to ensure execution despite sustained challenges of COVID19.