Australian port control detained second bulk carrier for wage theft

MV Xing Jing Hai. Credit: SCHWARZ, MALTE

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) tipped off the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) on Wednesday morning, 11 September, that crew on board the Hong Kong-flagged MV Xing Jing Hai bulk carrier in the port of Brisbane had been underpaid.

“Surveyors boarded the ship today [11 September] to investigate the allegations,” AMSA reported.

AMSA surveyors interviewed the crew and reviewed documentation to determine whether they were being paid in accordance with their Seafarers’ Employment Agreements (SEA) as required under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

They confirmed the crew had not been paid their wages for two months, amounting to about USD51,000.

This is the second case this week of MLC breaches in Australian waters. The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier MV Fortune Genius is still under detention at the Port of Gladstone also for about USD50,000 in unpaid wages, and SAS has learned a third ship is now under suspicion.

“It is completely unacceptable for shipping companies to take advantage of their seafarers by withholding their wages and we will not tolerate that,” AMSA General Manager Allan Schwartz warned in today’s release.

“If you bring a sub-standard ship into Australian waters or you fail to meet the minimum standards set out in international laws like the MLC, we will hold you accountable.

“AMSA has the power to ban ships for repeated poor performance,” he warned.

The MV Xing Jing Hai will remain under detention in Brisbane until AMSA is satisfied that all crew have been paid their outstanding wages in full and the company convinces AMSA it will not happen again.

Meanwhile ITF assistant co-ordinator Matt Purcell told SAS that crew from a third ship in Australian waters had also since called for help over unpaid wages this week.