An Alcoa-chartered ship has been found in possible breach of the Maritime Labor Convention and international safety standards after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority was unable to verify the ship’s crew had received any wages in two months.
The Panamanian Flag-of-Convenience, Greenery Sea, which was chartered by Alcoa as a replacement for the Australian ship the MV Portland, is part of a fleet of ships owned by Honk Kong-based Parakou.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) inspected the ship as it berthed in Kwinana, Western Australia and reported breaches of MLC and Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) to AMSA.
The safety regulator has now demanded evidence of wages before it will allow the Greenery Sea and its exploited Chinese crew to sail.
ITF National Coordinator Dean Summers said the responsibility was on Alcoa and the Australian Government to properly vet the ships the company uses to carry its domestic cargo.
“You would have thought that Alcoa would want to avoid controversy after it unceremoniously sacked 40 Australian seafarers only to replace them with some of the most vulnerable workers in the world,” Mr Summers said.
Last month the first ship to ply the MV Portland’s route, the Strategic Alliance, was found to have bribed foreign government officials in at least three countries before being hired by Alcoa.
“We’re two for two now and the Federal Government has an urgent responsibility to step in to revoke the Temporary Licence which allows Alcoa and the ship’s owners to get away with using bottom feeder ships, with corrupt and illegal practices to directly undermine an Australian industry,” he said.
“Alcoa’s assertions that Parakou Shipping have a good reputation have now been proven to be false and Alcoa should be more careful about spouting falsehoods through the press.”
The crew of the MV Portland has been at a stalemate in the South Western Victorian town of Portland for more than a month after Alcoa announced they would sack its workers but continue to maintain the domestic trade route between WA bauxite refineries and the Portland aluminium smelter.
Alcoa has exploited a loophole in the broken Temporary Licence system, regulated by the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development headed by Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, which was set up to reduce barriers for international trading ships that would call into more than one Australian port on a temporary basis.
Alcoa have been granted a licence to move Australian cargoes on an exclusive domestic route on Flag-of-Convenience ships with minimal labour, safety and environmental standards.