Australia Bans Bulk Carrier Over Underpayments to Crew

Mike Schuler
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July 27, 2020

MV Agia Sofia (ex-Trade Spirit). File Photo: MarineTraffic.com/iwan afwan

Officials in Australia have banned a Liberian-flagged ship from visiting Australian ports for six months after discovering that the ship’s crew had been withheld pay in violation of international maritime labor laws.

Inspectors with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority boarded Marmaras Navigation’s MV Agia Sofia at Hay Point in Mackay this past Saturday after receiving a complaint via the International Transport Workers’ Federation. During the inspection, AMSA found evidence that some seafarers on board the ship had not been paid their wages in full since August 2019.

The AMSA said the outstanding wages totalled AUD $45,000 (US $32,000), constituting a breach of their employment agreements under the Maritime Labour Convention.

AMSA Acting General Manager Operations Michael Drake noted it wasn’t the first time the shipping company, Marmaras Navigation Ltd, had been caught underpaying crew in Australian waters.

“In January 2018 AMSA detained another company ship, Koundouros, at Port Walcott for owing its seafarers more than AUD $7500,” said Drake. “The operator was fortunate that AMSA did not ban Koundouros at the time and those seafarers were paid their outstanding wages before the ship was allowed to leave.”

“Bringing a second ship, Agia Sofia, to Australia with the same breach is inexcusable and has left us with little choice but to ban this ship from Australian ports,” Drake added.

In total, Agia Sofia is now the third ship in the last 12 months to be banned by AMSA for failing to pay seafarers their wages in full and on time.

Drake also noted how seafarers, especially now, now making enormous sacrifices by being away from their loved ones for extended periods of time just to keep critical global trade moving.

“Abusing their most basic rights to be paid for the work they are doing is shameful behavior on the part of this shipping company,” Drake said.

 

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