Chinese seafarers aboard the Stolt Kikyo tanker, which berthed in Devonport, Tasmania early Sunday morning, are owed wages for two months and have not received coastal trading payments required under Australian law, shows an investigation by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
ITF assistant national coordinator Matt Purcell met with the twenty-four crew members of the vessel, owned by global shipping giant Stolt-Nielsen Limited, where it was revealed they were owed approximately $250,000 in wages.
The ship is now moored a short distance from the Australian-manned Alexander Spirit, which has remained in Devonport for more than a week after the crew were sacked, to be replaced with cheap foreign workers on $2 per hour.
Purcell said the Stolt Kikyo, which is registered in the impoverished West African nation of Liberia, is operating under a ‘flag of convenience’ to avoid tax, stricter regulations and Australian employment standards.
“The twenty-four Chinese seafarers on board appear to have been denied more than two months wages, and have also been robbed of the coastal payments they are entitled to under the coastal trading permit,” Purcell said.
“After meeting with the crew, the ITF calculates that at least $250,000 is owed to them.
“Global shipping is big business, delivering massive profits to the corporations that dominate it, yet increasingly these profits are being generated through the exploitation of seafarers from developing nations.
“This tanker is trading in Australian waters, servicing Australian ports, while utilising the cheapest international crews, all on an Australian government license.
“The Federal Government must act immediately to rectify these breaches to international conventions and basic human rights.
Purcell said that Devonport offered a clear example of Australian workers being dumped in favour of flag of convenience crews.
“You only need to look across the bay from the Alexander Spirit to understand what the cheap alternative to Australian crews looks like,” he said.