D-Day For The Rathboyne

On the eve of the Rathboyne's departure from Australia, the International Transport Workers' Federation has called on the Fair Work Ombudsman to urgently intervene and prevent the ship from leaving Newcastle, while still owing its crew some $A750,000 in wages for work performed domestically in Australia.

The Rathboyne is a Bahamas-registered FOC (flag of convenience) bulk carrier, which has been working on the Australian coast since before 2010. It is owned by the Norwegian shipping giant Gearbulk.

The 14 crew of the Rathboyne, ten Filipinos and four Poles have been underpaid around a total of $A750, 000 during their 590 days working in Australia's domestic trade, a run that used to be done by Australian workers.

Now Gearbulk is seeking to sail out of Australia, to remove all 14 crew members from the bulk carrier without paying this money, and to replace them with Chinese seafarers to drive costs even lower.

ITF Coordinator, Dean Summers, says the Fair Work Ombudsman needs to intervene as a matter of urgency.

"It's D-Day for the Rathboyne," Mr Summers said.

"This bulk carrier is planning to leave Newcastle tomorrow night and essentially steal wages from its crew, who have been working in this country for the best part of two years.

"The Australian office of Gearbulk has conceded that they are the employers, and yet they refuse to take any responsibility for the current crew. Instead they are trying to shift the blame to Australian charterers, Koppers who are based in Newcastle.

"Everyone is throwing their hands up and evading responsibility, but the simple fact remains that we have 14 lowly paid seafarers, who have been operating in this country for 590 days, and are on the cusp of being ripped off to the tune of $A750,000.

"Without the FWO's intervention the options for these 14 men start to thin out. It is just completely unreasonable to expect them to get off this bulk carrier - to be replaced by Chinese crew - still being owed $A750,000.

"Tomorrow evening the Rathboyne is expected to sail from our shores. Without intervention it is clear that Gearbulk intends to leave these 14 seafarers high and dry."

On the eve of the Rathboyne's departure from Australia, the International Transport Workers' Federation has called on the Fair Work Ombudsman to urgently intervene and prevent the ship from leaving Newcastle, while still owing its crew some $A750,000 in wages for work performed domestically in Australia.