Seafarers' International Union of Canada says the crew from Romania and the Russian captain haven't been paid since April and were allegedly left without replenished supplies by the ship's owner.
International Transport Workers' Federation inspector Vince Giannopoulos says the ship arrived in Canadian waters about a month ago from Europe and that the 19 on board have been "abandoned" without food or water for about two weeks.
Giannopoulos says since arriving in the Port of Oshawa a week ago the crew got so desperate they yelled at passing fishermen for gear so they could catch something to eat, though supplies were later delivered by supporters.
He says the ship's owner allegedly ran into financial trouble but that talks are underway for the owner of the cargo — 18,000 tonnes of steel pipe and coils, which remains onboard — to pay their wages and end the impasse.
Neither the ship's Germany-based owner Intersee nor the Port of Oshawa could be immediately reached for comment Monday night.
Giannopoulos, who was among the supporters who went on board, said "it's looking good right now" but cautioned that no money has changed hands yet. He said a liquidation company and the agency that provided the ship's crew are also involved in the discussions.
He said the sailors and their captain have been on strike, refusing to unload the cargo, since Friday.