The Hong Kong-flagged Shandong Hai Wang, a 75,538 dwt dry bulk carrier has been issued with a 12-month ban by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
AMSA surveyors boarded the ship in the port of Gladstone on 7 July after receiving a tip off from the International Transport Workers’ Federation of discrepancies in the payment of crew wages.
During the inspection undertaken by AMSA, the surveyors found evidence that crew had been deliberately underpaid by about AU$56,000 (HK$326,000). The ship was subsequently detained for breaching the Maritime Labour Convention, which sets out seafarers’ rights’ to decent working conditions.
AMSA’s general manager of operations, Allan Schwartz, said AMSO would not tolerate ships that underpay their crew in Australia.
“The international conventions that protect seafarers’ rights are very clear, Mr Schwartz said. This is the fourth time in the last year that a ship has been banned from Australian ports for underpaying crew,” he 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 and even more severe penalty than that handed to the Shandong Hai Wang.
AMSA subsequently received confirmation on 12 July, that the crew had received all outstanding wages and the ship was released from detention and issued with a direction notice banning its return to Australian ports for 12 months.
In an interesting coda to this story, Chinese shipping website, Xinde Marine News apparently interviewed a spokesperson for the manager of Shandong Hai Wang, Qilu Ship Management, Qilu Ship Management Ltd. The spokesperson insisted that the company always paid the crew on schedule.
“However, the underpayment of the crew was because the wages of Filipino seafarers were paid on their behalf by a Philippines dispatch company,” the spokesperson said, according to Xinde Marine News. The spokesperson also insisted that the crew were only stating their dissatisfaction over the late payment and would actively cooperate in any investigation and tell the truth. The ship management company did not say whether it would appeal the charge.
ITF inspector Sarah Maguire stated in a press release issued by the Maritime Union of Australia that she was alerted to the latest infringement by the fact there had been underpayments made by a vessel owned by the same company when operating in India.
Ms Maguire said the crew were mainly Chinese seafarers, one Filipino and two from Myanmar.
The Hong Kong Ship Registry said the case is currently under investigation and would take appropriate action if necessary.