Union Helps Family Who Lost Sole-Breadwinner Dad

File photo

Father’s Day was celebrated the world over just two days ago (June 19).

But for one family, a tragic loss meant that Father’s day was no longer to be celebrated.


Captain Ian Chan passed away on board a Hong Kong Flag vessel along the Suez Canal in November 2014, and left behind his wife, two young children and an elderly mother.

When his body was brought back to Singapore, representatives from the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU) including its General Secretary Mary Liew and President, Captain Robin Foo visited the wake.

It found out through Captain Chan’s wife that no payment was offered to the family by his employer. To make matters worse, Captain Chan was the sole breadwinner of the family.

The union immediately took action to see how it could help the family tide through the difficult time.

SMOU found out that the Hong Kong flagged vessel which Captain Chan was on had a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the union in Hong Kong. It contacted the Merchant Nacy Officers’ Guild – Hong Kong (MNOG-HK), an affiliate of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), of which Captain Chan was also a member of, to help look into securing a compensation for his family.

After rounds of negotiation, the company offered Mrs Chan USD$40,000 as compensation. However, SMOU felt that more should have been accorded to the family, as the late Captain Chan had worked for the company since 1999.

SMOU consulted its lawyers and worked with its Hong Kong counterparts to appeal for a higher amount.

0366 - Capt Foo presenting cheque and speaking with the wife

The company eventually agreed to make a payout of USD$200,000 to Mrs Chan after considering the strong grounds and the circumstances under which Captain Chan died.


SMOU’s General Secretary Mary Liew, who is also the NTUC’s President said that the compensation of USD$200,000 was hard-fought. *

“this was the least we could do for our member, and we hope this can provide Mrs Chan and her family some peace of mind.” – Ms Mary Liew

They say “Hard times will reveal your true friends”. Indeed, had it not been for the SMOU, Mrs Chan would have not received a compensation for the death of her husband. At the very least, the money can definitely bring much help to the family and offer her some peace of mind.


*Adapted from Seavoices Feb-Mar 2016

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