The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) banned yet another vessel for deliberately underpaying crew wages, which in this case the operator attempted to conceal from the authorities.
The AMSA on Friday announced a 12-month ban for the Panama-flagged bulk carrier AC Sesoda, which is operated by Sincere Industrial Corporation of Taiwan.
AMSA boarded the ship at Mourilyan in Queensland on September 10 to investigate allegations of underpayment. During AMSA’s investigation, evidence was collected which confirmed that a number of crew had only been paid half of their wages since October 2019.
According to the AMSA, the he ship’s master and Sincere Industrial attempted to conceal the underpayment from inspectors by producing a fabricated wage record which indicated that these seafarers had been paid in full. A second wage record showed that these seafarers had in fact been deliberately underpaid, while some senior members of the crew had been paid above their agreed rates, the AMSA said.
The ship was detained by AMSA and the operator was directed to pay the outstanding wages, which they complied.
AMSA General Manager Operations Allan Schwartz said the ship was released from detention and issued with a 12-month ban, prohibiting it from entering an Australian port.
“This is the fourth ship that we have banned this year for serious and shameful breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention,” Mr Schwartz said.
“AMSA has made its position abundantly clear – we have a zero tolerance for the underpayment of crew. This type of behavior is unethical, disrespectful and in complete contravention to the Maritime Labour Convention.
“I have no doubt that the financial and reputational impact that being banned from Australia has on the operator, far exceeds the cost of paying seafarers the money that they have rightfully earned,” Schwartz said.
The AC Sesoda joins the Hong Kong-flagged Unison Jasper and Liberian-flagged TW Hamburg and Agia Sofia, which have all been issued AMSA bans related to Maritime Labor Convention violations since July.
“AC Sesoda has now joined a long list of ships including most recently the Unison Jasper, TW Hamburg and Agia Sofia which have been banned from Australian ports after being caught treating their seafarers like modern day slaves,” Schwartz said.
“We are sending a simple message to operators: Pay your crew properly, treat them respectfully and comply with the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention or you will not be welcome in Australia.”