Australia bans bulk carrier for underpaying crew

bulk carrier DL Carnation

By Jite Eriabie 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Panama-flagged bulk carrier DL Carnation from entering Australian ports for one year after the vessel was caught underpaying crew wages.

The AMSA was first alerted to the offense on September 8 when it received a complaint via the International Transport Workers’ Federation alleging discrepancies in the payment of wages for the crew of the bulk carrier.

An AMSA surveyor boarded the vessel in Gladstone and found that the ship was operating with two sets of wage accounts on board; one that showed the amount of pay the crew should have been receiving in line with their Seafarer Employment Agreements, and the other showing what the crew were actually receiving.

A comparison of the accounts showed the crew were being underpaid in excess of $17,000 USD per month with records found reflecting this back to at least April of this year.

The vessel was immediately detained for breaching the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, which provides international standards for seafarers rights such as minimum age, working hours, seafarer employment agreements, and payment of wages, among other things. MLC 2006 is commonly referred to as the “Seafarer Bill of Rights” for its basic-yet-necessary protections for seafarers.

With regards to the CL Carnation, AMSA’s General Manager of Operations, Allan Schwartz, said the keeping of two sets of accounts is extremely concerning.

“By maintaining multiple accounts of wages it demonstrates a knowledge and intent to not only withhold wages but to also actively deceive authorities,” Schwartz said. “This is completely unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated in Australia.”

AMSA said Thursday it had received confirmation today that the outstanding wages had been received by the crew and the vessel was released from detention at 2:30 pm. Upon releasing the vessel from detention, AMSA issued the master a direction notice banning the DL Carnation from entering or using any Australian port for 12 months.

“For a first breach AMSA’s response would normally be to detain the vessel until the problem is rectified. In this case, given the concerning existence of fake accounts and the intent to deceive authorities, AMSA has decided to issue a 12 month ban to the DL Carnation and will increase inspections for all other vessels belonging to this company,” Schwartz said.

“AMSA takes a zero tolerance approach to the mistreatment of crew and all vessels coming to our shores should be aware of the consequences. Shipping companies should be aware that AMSA has the power to ban entire fleets if we uncover systemic issues within an operation and will not hesitate to do so where deliberate non-compliance is uncovered,” Schwartz warned.   

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