Australian maritime authorities have banned a Singaporean-flagged bulk carrier from the country’s port for six months for breaches of the Maritime Labor Convention related to the underpayment of the ship’s crew who were also working under expired employment contracts.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspectors inspected the MV Western Callao in Port Adelaide in South Australia on September 6 after receiving a complaint about seafarer underpayment and repatriation issues.
During the inspection, AMSA found evidence that the employment contract with the 13 sailors on board the vessel had not been honored and that the sailors collectively owed around 40,000 AUD. Inspectors also found evidence that the seafarers had been on board for more than 12 months, despite continued commitments to repatriate the seafarers at the end of their original nine-month contract.
As a result, AMSA detained the vessel for multiple violations of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) and the operator was ordered to pay the unpaid wages.
The ship was then cleared to sail to Brisbane for a crew change as they had to return home, under quarantine conditions approved by health authorities. AMSA has since received proof that the crew had been paid.
AMSA’s executive director of operations, Michael Drake, said this was not the first time that AMSA, Bright Star Shipmanagement Inc, has been caught in the act of violating the MLC.
âIn July 2020, AMSA inspected the Western Callao in Port Kembla, NSW, finding that eight sailors had been on board for more than 11 months. Another company vessel, the Furness Southern Cross, was found to have 10 sailors on board for over 14 months, âsaid Mr. Drake.
âThis is the third vessel that we are banning this year for serious and disgraceful breaches of the Maritime Labor Convention.
âAustralia has zero tolerance for crew underpayment. This type of behavior is unethical and in total contradiction with the Maritime Labor Convention. The international conventions which protect the rights of seafarers are very clear.
âShips visiting Australian ports are advised that if we see deliberate underpayment of crew and attempts to deceive the authorities, they can expect penalties.â?
Drake said sailors are making huge sacrifices right now by being away from home for long periods of time just to keep essential world trade.