In a second so-called shameful incident a bulker chartered by Rio Tinto subsidiary has been reportedly detained by Australian authorities for failing to pay wages to the crew members.
For the second consecutive time, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has apprehended a foreign-owned vessel off Gladstone in central Queensland. The ship under question is a bulk carrier which was detained on Friday after an inspection was carried out on the bulk carrier by the International Transport Workers Federation.
This is the second consecutive time this year Rio Tinto has been linked to a foreign vessel detained for not paying the crew.
Dean Summers, ITF National Coordinator said, “The captain admitted that the 22 Indian crew members aboard had not been paid for more than two months. Our inspector found that the ship was pretty shoddy. The inspector went straight to the captain’s accounts and the wages and found that even though the captain had asked the crew to sign off on receiving the wages, nobody had received wages since the end of July.”
The Inspector found that the food stocks were extremely low and the ship was poorly maintained. He further stated, “There was only a very scant amount of food, I think three bags of frozen vegetables, half a bag of rice and little else. The quality of water was the colour of tea and it looked just absolutely disgraceful”.
After its detention, the ship owners paid the crew members their pending wages and other conditions laid out by the authorities.
The Pacific Aluminium has used foreign-owned vessels with temporary licences, according to the International Transport Workers Federation. The ship was commissioned after the Australian crew of bulk carrier CSL Melbourne was ordered off the ship by police and security guards while it was docked in Newcastle.
Mr. Summers said, “Pacific Aluminium has charted a whole range of foreign-owned ships to replace that one single Australian ship. When we get access to those ships we can find some pretty disgraceful conditions on board. Sometimes they don’t even sign up to international minimum standard for conditions and wages, and that’s very alarming, particularly when seafarers are hurt or injured”. He further added, “There are a whole lot of other things they don’t do, including no food.”
Chris McGuire, Director of the maritime consultancy firm Strategic Marine Group said, “We’re now surpassing 8,000 voyages since June 2012 when the system started. As time goes on we’re transporting more and more cargo via the temporary licences”. He further stated, “We can just look at the number of vessels in Australia, there have been some specific vessels that have left the coast over the last 12 to 18 months, including CSL Melbourne. They’re being replaced by temporary licences”.
Dean Summers mentioned that companies like Pacific Aluminium need to step up. He said, “They need to play a bit more of a positive role and ensure the ships they charter are of a high quality and at least pay their crew and feed their crew, and allow the ITF to check that”.
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