SUVA (ABC/Pacnews) — A group of Filipino sailors who claim they were left stranded by their employer in Fiji for several months are ecstatic they'll soon be heading home.
The seven men say they were abandoned by their Fijian employer, Goundar Shipping, after raising concerns about their pay and working conditions.
The Philippine government has stepped in to pay for their return flights after Goundar refused to send them back.
“I'm very happy because my family are very excited to see me safe and sound," said Joshua Imperial, who worked as a cook on Gondar’s ferries.
Some of them have been out of work since January without the means to return home and they've been relying on the kindness of strangers and the International Transport Workers Federation to survive.
“I'm very disappointed with the company because I feel that I'm in hell,” Imperial said.
Goundar Shipping has declined to comment publicly at length about the allegations but it has denied the claims of mistreatment.
Several Fijian agencies are investigating including police, immigration and employment officials and the human rights and anti-discrimination commission.