THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has put the Hong Kong-flagged bulker carrier Xing Ning Hai (IMO 9728332) on notice after discovering that the crew had been paid their wages six months late.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) notified AMSA on Thursday 19 July that the crew had not been paid since January, with back-wages amounting to some $215,000.
An AMSA spokesperson said the vessel was at sea enroute from Thevenard to Devonport, with a load of gypsum, when the Authority was notified of the issue.
“AMSA liaised with the ship’s flag state, Hong Kong, and agreed to detain the ship on their behalf upon its arrival to facilitate an investigation,” the spokesperson said.
“On Friday, 20 July – just days before the ship was due to arrive in Devonport – the crew were paid their outstanding wages.”
The spokesperson said Xing Ning Hai arrived in Devonport on Tuesday, 24 July and was detained immediately by AMSA on Hong Kong’s behalf for alleged breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention. Surveyors from AMSA and Hong Kong attended the ship on the following Friday and Saturday, collecting evidence that supported the allegations.
“It appears the manning agent used by the ship’s operator did not pass on the wages of nine crew members which were due to be paid on a monthly basis between January and July 2018,” the AMSA spokesperson said.
“Both AMSA and its counterparts in Hong Kong take breaches of the MLC very seriously. Hong Kong has taken the lead in investigating the incident and will be taking corrective action against the ship to ensure this breach is not repeated.”
The ship has been released, and according to the latests AIS data (as of 30 July), it is underway, enroute from Devonport to Gladstone.
“The Xing Ning Hai will be subject to a port State control inspection at its next port of call in Australia and must provide evidence every month to both AMSA and Hong Kong that crew have been paid their wages in full and on time,” the AMSA spokesperson said.
“AMSA has issued the operator with a one-off letter of warning. If the operator fails to ensure wages are paid in full and on time again, the ship will be subject to a banning. All other ships operated by this operator will also be subject to increased inspection regimes in Australia.”
Discussing the Xing Ning Hai, ITF Australian co-ordinator Dean Summers said: “Sadly, international shipping can be a murky industry, full of opaque ownership structures and a failure to meet proper environmental, safety and human rights standards and these Chinese seafarers are victims of that system.”