Chinese crew fish for dinner in Wallaroo owed $47,000 in backpay
Chinese crew on board the Hong Kong flagged Tien Hau in the South Australian regional port of Wallaroo, have been fishing for dinner, while the International Transport Workers Federation calls for their $47,000 owing in backpay to be paid in full.
But the HONG KONG shipping line Fenwick Shipping has refused to meet with the ITF and there is now concern the ship will attempt to leave port in the morning or under cover of dark without paying wages owing.
"The 14 year old vessel is a floating sweatshop," said Matt Purcell, ITF assistant coordinator in Australia. "It has not been paying the Chinese crew on board in compliance with the ITF national agreement, the crew's amenities are in a disgraceful state and food stocks are so low in the galley the crew have been fishing at the berth to supplement their diet."
The fact that this crew is resorting to fishing off the side of the ship is an indictment of the way seafarers are abused on many ships of shame. It provides strong argument for changes being considered by the government to reform licensing and permit arrangements of overseas vessels trading on the Australian coast. It also underlines the importance of revitalising the Australian fleet so that we don't have to rely on substandard shipping.
The Tien Hau is loading wheat from the Australian Barley Board bound for PNG.
Matt Purcell said the 22 Chinese crew are owed three months backpay and all wages owing must be paid up before the ship sails.
"ITF affiliates are deciding appropriate action if this is not the case.
"Too many dodgy ship owners pass under the radar and treat their crews in a way Australians would never accept", Purcell said.
MEANWHILE the Singapore flagged MT Ocean Winter discharging fuel in the Port of Adelaide is also in dispute with the ITF after an inspection uncovered that the 28 Chinese, Indonesian and South Korean crew told the ITF they had not been paid for three months.
"The crew are owed over US$60,000 and ship shouldn't be going any where until they are paid," said Purcell.
Earlier this week, as part of an ITF blitz of SA shipping the ITF team boarded the Panamanian-flagged Kumano Lilly bulk carrier at the Port of Adelaide, and obtained agreement from the Burmese and Filipino crew to see rock bottom wages doubled.
The Kumano Lilly crew were being paid wages below the International Labor Organisations (ILO) rate of around $US930 a month with one cadet receiving just $US300 a month", Purcell, ITF assistant coordinator in Australia.
And only yesterday crew on board the Hong Kong flagged vessel Mount Owen loading gypsum in the Port of Thevenard, South Australia threatened strike action unless their US$37,000 leave payments are made before the ship returns to China.