Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered AUD 100,649 (USD 76,010) for ten seafarers from the Philippines who were underpaid while working in Australian waters.
The underpayments occurred during voyages that the foreign-flagged vessel conducted in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone between January and June 2016, travelling between ports in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
During the voyages, the lowest ranked crew members received as little as AUD 5 per hour, Fair Work Ombudsman informed, adding that the workers were paid base salaries in accordance with international minimum wage rates.
However, because the voyages were conducted within Australian waters the employees should have been paid in accordance with their relevant ranks under Australian workplace laws.
Under Australia’s Seagoing Industry Award 2010 the lowest ranked workers were entitled to receive at least UAD 17.29 per hour and AUD 21.61 for overtime hours.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matter after receiving a tip-off alleging that the crew of the vessel were not being paid in accordance with the relevant award.
The operator of the vessel, an international company with headquarters outside of Australia, claimed that it was unaware its obligations under Australian workplace laws because it “had never operated voyages within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone before.”
Fair Work Ombudsman said that minimum rates of pay apply to everyone working in Australia and they are not negotiable.
The highest amount recovered by the organization for an individual worker was AUD 16,677.