By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Crew members on board Iranian
oil tanker Crystal have stopped unloading in India's Mangalore
port in protest over non-payment of salaries, three sources said
Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd managing
director P. P. Upadhya said six crew members are on strike,
although he didn't give a reason.
"About three-fourths of the vessel was unloaded and they are
neither discharging the remaining cargo nor going back. But
talks are in progress," Upadhya told Reuters.
A shipping source said there are six Ukrainian crew members
on board the Crystal, who had told him they have not been paid
for as long as four months. It was not clear why their salaries
were not paid, but the source added that the crew members are
refusing to accept payment in rupees.
"They have unloaded only 70-80 percent of the cargo but they
refused to unload the remainder because of salary issues," the
shipping source said.
The aframax vessel is owned by the National Iranian Tanker
Company (NITC). NITC did not immediately respond to calls for
Iran is facing increasing problems paying for goods and
services as European Union and U.S. sanctions choke its oil
revenues and financial conduits. The sanctions, aimed at forcing
the OPEC member to curb its nuclear programme, more than halved
the country's oil exports in 2012.
The West believes the programme is meant for making an atom
bomb, an accusation Iran denies.
Sanctions make it difficult for Iran to repatriate the money
it receives for its oil, although it can use the cash to pay for
goods in the purchasing country.
According to Mangalore port's website, the vessel arrived on
Sunday, Feb. 10, and was berthed on Feb. 11. Calls to the
Mangalore Port chairman's office were not answered.
The shipping source and a trade source said that Iran had
cleared payments to the sailors up to Dec. 31, but the crew had
refused to discharge the remaining cargo as they had not yet
received confirmation from their banks of the payments.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Fineren in DUBAI; Editing by