Australia bans bulker whose over-contract crew walked offWritten by Nick Blenkey
In a case that illustrates the ongoing impacts of the crew change crisis, the Hong Kong registered bulker Unison Jasper has now been banned from Australian waters ports for six months.. The ship is one of three that were idled in Australian ports last month when over-contract crews sought repatriation (see earlier story).
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said Saturday that the Unison Jasper had remained alongside in the Port of Newcastle, under detention, since July 25 for breaches of the Maritime Labor Convention. The breaches related to the operation of several sets of wage accounts and multiple conflicting seafarer employment agreements.
AMSA also found insufficient quantity and variety of food on board and an ineffective complaints procedure.
On July 31, says AMSA, 11 crew members exercised their right to leave the ship and entered into quarantine arrangements in Sydney so they could be repatriated to their own country.
The ship had remained under detention in Newcastle because there were not enough crew onboard to sail the ship safely.
The operator, Unison Marine Corporation has now organized replacement crew from overseas, which has allowed the ship to meet its minimum crewing requirements and depart.
AMSA General Manager Operations Allan Schwartz said the lengthy detention of the ship had no doubt been an extremely costly exercise in non-compliance for the ship’s operator. The decision to ban the Unison Jasper was the result of a combination of factors and systemic failings by the operator, and the ship resulting in serious breaches of the Maritime Labor Convention.
“Our decision to ban Unison Jasper reflects our zero tolerance for the mistreatment of seafarers,” Schwartz said. “We are sending a simple message to operators: Pay your crew properly, treat them respectfully, and comply with the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention or you will not be welcome in Australia.
“Seafarers are making enormous sacrifices right now by being away for extended periods of time from their loved ones, just to keep critical global trade moving.
“To respond to that sacrifice by depriving seafarers of their rightful wages which they and their loved ones back home depend on, is completely unacceptable.
“We do not tolerate this in Australian waters and Unison Jasper is now the fifth ship in the last 12 months to be banned by AMSA for failing to pay seafarers their wages in full and on time.”
Australia is signatory to the Maritime Labor Convention, and the banning of the Unison Jasper along with AMSA’s banning of four ships within the last 12 months, signifies the importance that Australia places in the welfare and wellbeing of seafarers.
AMSA says its position is very clear, and Australia will not tolerate the ongoing mistreatment of seafarers in our waters.