For the second time in less than a week, Australian maritime officials have banned a foreign-flagged bulk carrier from its ports over underpaid wages to crew.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) announced overnight that the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier TW Hamburg has been banned from Australian ports for 12 months.
AMSA inspectors board the vessel in Gladstone on Friday, July 24, after receiving a tip from seafarers onboard that their employment contracts had expired and they were awaiting repatriation. During the inspection, inspectors were approached by the crew who claimed they had underpaid.
The AMSA says it confirmed the allegations and determined that the crew was owed about AUD $42,000. According to the AMSA, the crew were found to have duplicate seafarer employment agreements that included wage differences of about 25%. The seafarers were being paid based on the agreement for the lower amount.
AMSA also discovered that the quantity and quality of food provided was well below the standards required by the Maritime Labour Convention. The galley and fridges were filthy and the ship had very poor hygiene practices overall, according to the AMSA.
“Taking financial advantage and mistreating seafarers in this way is nothing short of exploitation by people in powerful positions,” said AMSA Acting General Manager Operations Michael Drake.
The crew of the TW Hamburg are now in the process of being repatriated.
Since 2014, the AMSA has banned 16 ships from Australian ports, the majority for failing to pay seafarers their wages on time and in full.
Earlier this week we banned Agia Sofia for similar reasons. The MV Fortune Genius and Xing Jing Hai were both banned in September 2019 for collectively owing their seafarers AUD $240,000, according to Drake.
“Any ship that arrives in Australia under such conditions can expect the same treatment. We will not tolerate the exploitation of seafarers in our waters,” Drake added.
The AMSA said it has received confirmation that the seafarers from TW Hamburg have now been paid their outstanding wages and have come ashore to be repatriated.
The ship has departed Gladstone and will not be permitted to approach or enter an Australian port until 29 July 2021.