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Australians ban Chinese bulker over crew pay failure

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier Shandong Hai Wang for 12 months after it was discovered that crew had been deliberately underpaid. The ship is owned by Chinese owner Shandong Shipping.

Last Friday AMSA received information from the International Transport Workers’ Federation alleging discrepancies in the payment of crew wages.

AMSA surveyors boarded the ship on arrival in Gladstone on Saturday to investigate the allegations.

During the inspection, the surveyors found evidence that crew had been deliberately underpaid by about A$56,000 from the amount specified in their seafarer employment agreements.

The ship was immediately detained for breaching the Maritime Labour Convention which sets out seafarers’ rights to decent working conditions.

AMSA’s general manager of operations, Allan Schwartz, said AMSA would not tolerate ships that underpay their crew in Australia.

“The international conventions that protect seafarers’ rights are very clear,” Schwartz said, adding “this is the fourth time in the last year that a ship has been banned from Australian ports for underpaying crew.”

“AMSA takes a zero-tolerance approach to the mistreatment of crew and all ships coming to our shores should be aware of the consequences,” Schwartz said. “Ships visiting Australian ports are put on notice. The next ship we find deliberately and repeatedly underpaying its crew and attempting to deceive authorities, can expect an even more severe penalty than that handed to the Shandong Hai Wang.”

AMSA received confirmation today that all outstanding wages had been received by the crew. The ship has been released from detention this afternoon and issued with a direction notice banning its return to Australian ports for 12 months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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