Newcastle church groups and the ITF have received a litany of complaints from the crew complaining about low wages, refused access to medical treatment after a ship board accident and extreme working conditions.
ITF national coordinator Dean Summers says that continued attempts to get a response from the enormously profitable German shipowners “Orion Bulkers” has been unsuccessful.
The 15 Filipino, 1 Ukrainian and 1 Bulgarian are at the mercy of a completely unregulated workplace where the boss on the other side of the world dictates their fate and the fate of 18 other ships on a daily basis.
Most Australian based bulk chartering companies included the giants AWB, Rio Tinto and BHP include tough conditions in their contracts to ensure that FOC ships carry ITF agreements to support international minimum standards for the international crew.
It is not clear at this stage if “Oldendorff Shipping” the charterers for the “Columbia” apply the same level scrutiny however the ITF are in contact with their Melbourne office.
Dodgy operators like the infamous Orion Bulkers work out ways to get around this requirement and are always on the lookout to exploit seafarers in the murky and deregulated world of Flags of Convenience.
The ITF are calling on the Gillard federal government to expedite the introduction of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention which once ratified will give Australia some level of policing this industry and protecting the welfare of visiting crews taking out products to international markets.