A Liberian-flagged bulk carrier has been banned from Australian ports for 12 months after authorities discovered that seafarers onboard were underpaid, had expired employment agreements and were requesting repatriation.
The 93,229 dwt TW Hamburg is the second bulker to recently be banned from Australia for crew underpayment, following the Liberian-flagged Agia Sofia earlier this week.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said its inspectors boarded the 229-meter TW Hamburg in Gladstone on Friday, July 24, after receiving correspondence that seafarers on board had expired employment agreements and requested repatriation. Further information and assistance was provided by the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
During the inspection AMSA was approached by seafarers who claimed they had been underpaid. Evidence was collected during AMSA’s inspection which substantiated these allegations and confirmed that crew were owed about AUD $42,000 ($30,000).
Crew were found to have duplicate seafarer employment agreements with a difference in wages between the two agreements of about 25%. They were being paid based on the agreement for the lower amount.
During the inspection, AMSA also discovered that the quantity and quality of food provided was well below the standards required by the Maritime Labor Convention. The galley and refrigerators were filthy, and the ship had very poor hygiene practices overall.
AMSA said it has since received confirmation that the seafarers from TW Hamburg have now been paid their outstanding wages and have come ashore to be repatriated to their home country. The ship has departed Gladstone and will not be permitted to approach or enter an Australian port until July 29, 2021.
“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 majority of industry operators do the right thing by their seafarers, but for the few who do not – consider this a reminder that you will be held accountable.
“AMSA has banned 16 ships from Australian ports since 2014, the majority for failing to pay seafarers their wages on time and in full. Earlier this week we banned Agia Sofia for this and Fortune Genius and Xing Jing Hai were both banned in September 2019 for collectively owing their seafarers AUD $240,000”.
“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.”