Maritime News

Australia bans ship after ITF finds unpaid wages

2 April 2018

Australia has banned a Liberia-flagged containership from Australian ports for three months after the ITF revealed that crew wages were unpaid.

The Filipino crew of the MSC Kia Ora told an ITF inspector in Melbourne that they had not been paid for three months. The ITF proceeded to recover the unpaid wages from the ship’s operator, Vega-Reederei, after contacting their German and Philippines offices. The ITF also alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to the case due to its past involvement with the company – in 2014, AMSA had banned the Vega-Reederei operated Vega Auriga from entry. 

In advance of the AMSA inspecting the vessel when it arrived in Brisbane, Vega-Reederei paid four months’ outstanding wages due to the crew, totalling AUD53,000, just before it berthed. The ITF in Manila also recovered a further AUD42,000 that was owed to the crew. Despite this, the AMSA decided to detain the vessel, both for the failure to pay the crew wages in full and on time, and also the discovery that the crew worked long and unsafe hours and that vital equipment on the vessel was defective. The AMSA found 24 deficiencies on the vessel.

The AMSA commented that: “Failure to pay crew their wages in full and on time is a clear and unacceptable breach of the Maritime Labour Convention.”

An AMSA reinspection found that all detainable deficiencies had been rectified, and the ship was released from detention. However, it was immediately issued with a ban from accessing Australian ports for three months.

Dean Summer, ITF national co-ordinator in Australia, said the case “provides us with a fine example of how the ITF across the Philippines, Australia and Germany have worked together and included the maritime authorities to get justice for the crew of this flag of convenience (FOC) ship.”  He called for an immediate AMSA wages audit of all Vega vessel coming to Australia; “ships must be made accountable under the FOC system”.  

The ship’s owner, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, has issued a statement on its website clarifying that it did not oversee the maintenance or the workforce of the Kia Ora, which was under charter, and that MSC “has a 98% crew retention rate on the ships it owns and manages, thanks largely to the good working conditions, regular pay and best-in-class training opportunities for the crew MSC employs directly”.

--------------------------PROBLEMS WITH PAY?-----------------------------------------------

Are you having problems with getting your pay in full? If you are, this could be a sign that your company is in economic trouble. You should contact your union or the ITF directly as soon as possible to protect your wages and employment. 


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