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Australia bans Taiwanese bulker for underpaying crew

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the 2008-built 28,300 dwt handy bulk carrier AC Sesoda for deliberately underpaying its crew by more than AUD$118,000 ($86,368).

AMSA boarded the vessel at Mourilyan in Queensland last week to investigate allegations about the underpayment and collected evidence that proved a number of crew had only been paid half of their wages since October last year.

AMSA accuses the ship’s Taiwanese operator, Sincere Industrial Corporation, of attempting to conceal the underpayment from authorities and detained the ship. After the detention, the crew was paid the outstanding wages.

AMSA has issued a 12-month ban on the ship, prohibiting it from entering Australian ports after releasing it from detention.

It is the fourth ship that AMSA has banned this year for serious breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention.

“AMSA has made its position abundantly clear – we have a zero tolerance for the underpayment of crew. This type of behaviour is unethical, disrespectful and in complete contravention to the Maritime Labour Convention,” said Allan Schwartz, AMSA’s general manager of operations.

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Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.

Comments

  1. This is an excellent initiative which contributes significantly to alleviating the most common abuse of seafarers by their employers, the practice of underpaying crew, late-paying, or not paying them at all. Other abuses are the sharp practices of cruise ship operators who not only expect the seafarer to underwrite his own employment, but also to charge for air fare, and necessary working equipment, and in some cases to buy their jobs. Perhaps prospective cruise ship passengers should first enquire from the ITF, the Missions to Seamen and other advocacy groups as to whether the ship you are considering joining has a record of abusing it’s crews. For virtually no effort at all the cruise passenger can contribute significantly to reducing the abuse of seafarers. For the major cruise ship operators, who handle.billions of dollars, the sums involved in this sharp practice are trivial. Mostly it is a matter of greed. If the cruise operator has a bad reputation, tell them and the industry why you won’t be taking a cruise with them. Don’t be fooled by the bland smiles of waiters, etc when they serve you. Their life is probably hell, hot-bunking with a colleague, over-worked and cheated, but they will never speak up, because to do so means demotion out of the tip-paying restaurants, sent home and blacklisted. For the same reason a passenger should never ask a waiter, or steward about his life on board. They will never tell you, for obvious reasons.

  2. Full marks to Splash for giving prominence to the solution at last to the most common and flagrant abuse of seafarers, underpayment of wages solely out of greed, All other abuses tended to flow from that offence. When l compare the exertions l had to go through to find a sympathetic pro bono lawyer, who would “slap the plaster” on a delinquent ship to arrest it, with what is possible today under MLC, l am greatly encouraged. As a government ship safety inspector at the time l was powerless. Not today.
    One word of warning. Never give the crew the balance of the wages owed to them on the ship. I had several cases where the money would be back in the Captain’s safe before the pilot was dropped. Have it paid into a bank for transfer to them or their families at home. Great days ahead!

  3. Despite unsuccesful for a position with AMSA in 2005.I do feel they doing a good job checking the maritime industrie like this post.
    I did found a well paid position as a marine engineer. Long live Australia

  4. I observe a plenty situations in which seafarers are not treated well especially on board of cargo vessels. Nowadays due to present situation with corona virus a lot of people forget about a seafarers as usual. Most of the governments and ports in their territories don’t give a chance for crew changes. On the other hand shipowners uses this issues to avoid crew changes to convince the ports. This was normal practice of excuses before and the crew changes were late because of it with two tree weeks max one month. Now the seafarers stay on board for a very long period of time more then normal even in the MLC convention more then one year. What else I observe the worse accommodation for living on board. Not enough food and drinks and regular stoppage of water because as you can imagine “we need to take more cargo” with 50 mt more and for that reason we take out the fresh water and what about the seafarers they will not used water because of it. Ok in Australia is ok great example for safety of the people but what about everywhere else?!?
    And till when will be like this?!? Nobody wha this to speak what is really happens because nobody want to stay without job ?!?

  5. This is years late in coming , having served on many ships and done many cruises later in life it still goes on. It will not change the shipping companies their exploitation knows no ends, I would love to know just how all those tips are shared out, its a bigger secret than what’s in the pyramids

  6. Worked in the near shore off shore drilling industry for a while and found AMSA to be professional to maritime safety and clear correspondence to maritime requirements, also worked on exploration drilling ships over seas and some of the stories from the deck hands that worked on board was amazing of there exploits of working on bulk carriers and cruise ships was terrible, they preferred the drill ships as they got paid and went home every three months, compared to cruise ships and bulk carriers 12 to 14 months straight without going home, to be told once they boarded the ship they got half pay till they were releived to go home, but never received or only a fraction of there entitled pay. If you complained you never got asked back. Alot of them went through contracting companies to get the job, so not sure if the shipping companies own the contracting companies or both were stealing there wage through sheer greed.

  7. My understanding is that AMSA act on tip offs of crew under payment or non-payment from the ITF. This is legitimate under PSC guidelines relating to MLC enforcement and is to be commended. Regrettably, I have not heard of maritime authorities in other countries taking the same crew wages/MLC protective stance as AMSA, inclusive of ship banning from their coastal state ports. Is AMSA the only PSC in the world to have the intergrity and guts to do this? Meantime, seafarers who are being ripped off for wages know that AMSA and the ITF in Australia will take definitive action and get them paid. The downside is that AMSA has no control over subsequent shipowner and crewing agency retribution through dismissal and black listing of the seafarers involved. A follow up to this story could therefore make for interesting reading.

    1. I haven’t read the Convention, but surely if a participating authority is presented with evidence of underpayment of wages it is bound to investigate it. In the past l had to do it myself, but it appears nations like Canada, when a ship is found to be underpaying it’s crew, should take action, as it would with allegations of unseaworthiness. If the inaction were reported in the media surely the agency would be forced to react. Media pressure worked for me when Transport Canada dragged it’s feet over allegations of unseaworthiness and foul living conditions, inadequate food, etc. Now it is a signatory to MLC it must respond to MLC violations. Am l missing something here?

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