Leaked memo reveals cruise industry giant MSC will not be paying some crew members stuck onboard its ships
A number of MSC Cruises crew members stuck onboard will not receive a salary as they await to be repatriated to their country of origin. Other crew members were informed that they will receive either a job offer six months after MSC Cruises' fleet is back online or an amount worth two months' base pay. Business Insider received several internal documents outlining how the cruise company plans to change its compensation policies for crew members stranded onboard. MSC Cruises did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Are you a cruise ship crew member? Email email@example.com. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Some MSC Cruises crew members are now stuck aboard their ships, still awaiting to be repatriated to their home countries. And while they wait, they will not be accruing any pay. MSC Cruises' managing director Mario Aponte sent out two different letters to crew members on April 1, as well as an internal company memo. At MSC and beyond, many cruise ship crew members are facing an uncertain future as the coronavirus epidemic roils the industry. MSC Cruises did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, MSC Cruises describes itself as "the world's largest privately-owned cruise line." Attorney Jim Walker's Cruise Law News blog post previously included leaked documents indicating that MSC Cruises had asked its crew members to "waive their legal rights to future compensation." Both April 1 letters sent to Business Insider addressed crew members still onboard the line's fleet of ships, who have not yet been repatriated as a result of the unforeseen circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. Both letters informed recipients that they would be "provided with single cabin accommodation, food and beverage services, medical assistance, access to education via our e-learning platform, and free social communication through the ship's IT system." The two letters also included language assuring recipients that the cruise line was "contacting your respective country embassies and all international authorities" in order to facilitate repatriation. Both sets of recipients were also offered the opportunity "to stay onboard our ship until it is possible for you to travel home safely." Those recipients whose "employment on board had reached a contractual end" were told they would "not be paid," nor would they "be requested to work" while "awaiting repatriation." "Unfortunately, despite all our efforts, it has not been possible so far, to find a travel plan to safely get you home, but we are striving to make it happen," the letter read. The letter said that each of these former crew members were still considered a "dedicated member of our MSC family," and promised future "opportunities for you to continue developing your professional career in our growing fleet." A different version of the April 1 letter told crew members that their "embarkation contract is terminated as of the date of the lay-up." An internal MSC memo defined a ship's lay-up date as "the date that the ship disembarked all guests onboard." "You will be paid all outstanding wages up to that date," Aponte wrote. To crew members whose "embarkation contract" ran out, MSC said it would make "a commitment to take you back onboard our ships for a new contract once this Covid-19 emergency is over and the Company has managed to resume all its operations." For those individuals who did not receive a new employment contract "within six months from recovery of all our fleet operations," MSC offered "compensation equal to two months basic wage." An internal memo clarified that the "2 months salary pay rule" would only apply six months after a "crew member's disembarkation date." The internal memo included the question: "Why are crew members from other companies getting paid for 1 or 2 months when they are sent home and we are not?" "We are not paying the crew at this point, but we guarantee employment within six months," the memo said. "If not, we will still pay the two months due to the crew. But we feel it is more important to guarantee the job security, which the other companies are not doing, therefore making a commitment to get you back onboard and with a job." The two months worth of base pay, however, would be off the table for those who did not accept the offered contract. It is unclear how many crew members these measures will impact. In the meantime, the cruise line said crew members still on board could earn pay by being chosen "to perform selected working activities." Those individuals would be "paid on the basis of pro-rata of the basic wage calculated on the time actually worked." "In order to allow crew members to take advantage of this opportunity, such activities will be assigned on a rotation basis to whom have requested to participate to the program," Aponte's letter said. The internal MSC memo noted that "all onboard MSC employees of the minimum manning will get the guarantee wage net of overtime, that will be paid according to the service provided." The "minimum manning" refers to the minimum number of crew members needed to keep the vessel operating safely. In the case of the MSC team, they include all crew members on a the "safety crew list" as well as several "additional positions of the Hotel Department." However, the memo noted that "minimum manning" has not been triggered on any of its ships yet. That memo went on to say that "if a crew member whose contract is still valid refuses an assigned duty, he will not receive any salary similarly to any other crew member whose contract has expired." Both April letters to stranded crew members signed off with an expression of gratitude toward those onboard. "Once again, we want to thank you for your work and commitment to MSC cruises, particularly during the past weeks," Aponte wrote. Are you a cruise ship crew member or employee? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.SEE ALSO: Cruise workers on Holland America's Rotterdam ship say they were forced into a perilous rescue mission of the COVID-19 stricken Zaandam, and now hundreds of crew members are stranded onboard wondering what's next. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What coronavirus symptoms look like, day by day
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