Thursday, August 6, 2020

‘Held hostage’: Cruise employees were stuck on a ship and forced to work without pay, lawsuit says

The Grand Celebration cruise ship sails through the Lake Worth Inlet between Palm Beach and Singer Island, Fla. (Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post/AP)

By Teo Armus

When cruises were first told to anchor in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Bahamas Paradise line presented Dragan Janicijevic and other crew members with a choice, he said: Agree to stay on their docked ship without pay, or never work for the company again.

A no-sail order for cruise ships was only supposed to last for a month, and the risk of catching the virus seemed greater onshore than on a liner with no positive cases and a good-paying job. So he took the deal.

But after the mandate was extended for another 100 days, the picture grew far more grim. Janicijevic and thousands of other foreign workers were stuck aboard for months, he said, unable to make any money but blocked from returning to their home countries. Many were ordered to keep cooking, cleaning and doing laundry in hopes of paychecks that never came.

“They kept us on the ship like captives, prisoners,” the 44-year-old native of Serbia told The Washington Post. “You work for food, your moves are restricted, and they still don’t let you leave.”  Read more >>