ITF plays key role In banning of Chinese bulk carrier for deliberately underpaying its crew

A tip-off from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) regarding unpaid wages has led to the banning of the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier MV Shandong Hai Wang for one year from Australian waters.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said that on July 6 it received information from the ITF alleging discrepancies in the payment of crew wages, which have since been paid.

After boarding the vessel the following day in Gladstone, AMSA said it has now banned the MV Shandong Hai Wang for 12 months after it was discovered that crew had been deliberately underpaid.

During the inspection, the surveyors found evidence that crew had been deliberately underpaid by about $56,000 (AUD) from the amount specified in their seafarer employment agreements.

The ship was immediately detained for breaching the Maritime Labour Convention which sets out seafarers' rights to decent working conditions.

ITF Australia Co-ordinator Dean Summers said it was unlikely the underpayment of crew would have  come to light without the ITF.

“The ITF has again led from the front when it comes to standing up for seafarers’ rights,” Summers said.

“The payment of missing wages and banning of the vessel for 12 months is directly related to the great work the ITF does."

ITF Inspector Sarah Maguire said she was alerted by the fact there had been underpayments made on a vessel owned by the same company when operating in India.
When Maguire asked for paperwork when the vessel arrived in Gladstone, the method of underpayments unravelled. 
"The company handed over two sets of documents that didn’t match,” Maguire said.
"I had a look at the numbers and took it from there."
There were mainly Chinese seafarers onboard, one Filipino and two from Myanmar.

AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said AMSA would not tolerate ships that underpay their crew in Australia.

“The international conventions that protect seafarers' rights are very clear,” Mr Schwartz said.

“Ships visiting Australian ports are put on notice. The next ship we find deliberately and repeatedly underpaying its crew and attempting to deceive authorities, can expect an even more severe penalty than that handed to theShandong Hai Wang.”

AMSA said the Shandong Hai Wang is operated by Qilu Ship Management Co. Limited, adding that that all outstanding wages have now been received by the crew. 

The ship was released from detention on Thursday and issued with a direction notice banning its return to Australian ports for 12 months.