Sydney: Rio Tinto has been dragged into an embarrassing shipping scandal in Australia with news that the crew on of its chartered in ships have not been paid for more than two months. The AOM Milena (2009 built; 76,606 dwt) is on charter to the miner, moving bauxite between mines in Weipa and Gove, and an aluminium factory in Gladstone. The Panama flagged ship is owned by Japan’s Nissen Kaiun.
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) national coordinator Dean Summers described the situation of the 21 Philippine crew as dire, saying that had received no wages since April, were running short on food supplies, and were being forced to live and work in filthy conditions.
“Not content to employ seafarers from poverty-riddled nations on wages that amount to just $2 per hour, the operator of this ship has not paid a single cent in wages to these crew members since April,” Summers said.
“The food situation is equally dire, with the crew given just $50 per day to buy food for 21 people ahead of the next leg of their planned voyage, where they will sail to Weipa to collect a load of bauxite for Rio Tinto.
“If Rio Tinto wanted to transport this bauxite by road or rail, they’d need to pay Australian minimum wages and adhere to Australian health and safety regulations, but because they transport it by sea they can avoid those requirements and slash costs.”
Rio Tinto has said it is investigating the state of the ship and its crew.