ITF Raises Alarm Over Wheat Ship

The owners of the Maltese Flag of convenience ship Hellenic Sky have had to return their vessel to Adelaide for repairs, where the International Transport Workers' Federation has uncovered the Filipino crew have been short changed around US$150,000.

The owners of the Maltese Flag of convenience ship Hellenic Sky have had to return their vessel to Adelaide for repairs, where the International Transport Workers' Federation has uncovered the Filipino crew have been short changed around US$150,000.

The Hellenic Sky arrived in Port Lincoln to pick up a 50,000 tonnes wheat shipment for Iraq, last week, when it failed survey and was ordered back to Adelaide for repairs. Meanwhile an ITF inspection of the ships books uncovered the crew were being paid below international rates.

"They're not even getting the basic ILO rate, and the ship is a heap...," said ITF co-ordinator Matt Purcell. "It will be in port another week at least for repairs and a clean up. And we're going to make sure they clean up their act with the crew wages at the same time."

The owners and managers, Hellenic Shipping Corporation, Greece have the 21 Filipino crew on US$840 monthly rate, around half of the ITF AB rate of $1765.

"We've written to the company letting them know we can't let this sort of exploitation go on in Australian waters with Australian cargo," said Matt Purcell. "We also let them know we'd be advising the relevant government authorities about what's going on. ABB Grain Ltd has to share the blame as well. You just can't go chartering a ship without checking it out first and making sure it conforms to international safety and labour standards. It's bad management and it's unacceptable. You transport something by road it's got to be roadworthy. You transport by ship and it's got to be shipshape. This ship's going nowhere until it's fixed."

CONTACT: Matt Purcell, ITF Australia Co-ordinator 0418 387 966