Australia has banned two foreign-flagged ships after the ITF reported that crews on board had not received their wages.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) took the unprecedented step of banning two bulk carriers from Australian ports on the same day after ITF inspections of the ships revealed that they had breached seafarers’ rights.
AMSA had previously detained the Chinese-owned, Panama-flagged Fortune Genius in Gladstone after an ITF inspection reported that eight crew members from Myanmar were owed about AUD100,000 in total for underpayment over the previous six months, with the vessel keeping fraud books to cover up the theft. A further ITF inspection of the Chinese-owned, Hong Kong-flagged Xing Jing Hai in Brisbane also found that the crew had not been paid. An AMSA investigation found that late and non-payment for crew totalled about AUD140,000.
AMSA has now banned Fortune Genius for a period of 12 months and Xing Jing Hai for 18 months from entering Australian ports for “a gross breach” of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in failing to pay their crews.
Meanwhile, the ITF inspected the Xing Jing Hai’s sister ship the Xing Ning Hai in Port Kembla after similar claims of non-payment of crew members. AMSA had detained that ship in Tasmania in July 2018 after an ITF inspection reported that crew were owed thousands in unpaid wages - more than AUD300,000 was recovered for the crew before it was allowed to leave Australian waters. Although AMSA was not able to substantiate the latest allegations, it says that the vessel “will continue to be subjected to a heightened inspection regime”.
Commenting on the banning of the two ships for breaching the MLC, Allan Schwartz of AMSA said: “Our powers to ban ships for breaches of international maritime regulations are clear and these two operators will not make a profit in our waters on the back of modern day slave labour.”
ITF assistant coordinator Matt Purcell commented that: “These cases show that massive wage theft and the exploitation of vulnerable foreign seafarers are not an anomaly, they are a central feature of the business models of many of the shipping operators carrying freight to and from Australia.
“Without the actions of the ITF, not one of these vessels would have been inspected, which is why so many companies think they can get away with rampant exploitation in Australian waters.”
--------------------------------PROBLEMS WITH PAY?---------------------------------------------------------
Are you having problems with getting your pay in full? If you are, this could be a sign that your company is in economic trouble. You should contact your union or the ITF directly as soon as possible to protect your wages and employment.