Thursday 13th Dec, 2018

Officers removed after crew make harassment claims

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

CREW on the chemicals tanker Tintomara refused to sail from Gladstone on Friday, complaining of bullying, intimidation, underpayment and lack of food.

The Liberian-flagged vessel was detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the master and chief officer have been taken off the ship after the Authority received complaints regarding alleged breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention.

“These allegations are related to inadequate provisions (food and water) and harassment by senior crew,” an AMSA spokesperson told DCN.

“During the initial inspection on Friday, AMSA’s inspectors were satisfied that adequate provisions had been supplied and that crew had been paid correctly, however payment of wages appeared to be two weeks late. The allegations of harassment by senior crew were substantiated.”

The spokesperson said AMSA worked with the ship’s onshore agent and operator over the weekend to resolve the issues.

“The chief officer was removed by the agent on Friday evening and the master by an MLC auditor appointed by the operator on Sunday evening,” the spokesperson said.

“The agent has sourced a temporary replacement master who boarded the ship on Sunday evening while the operator flew in a permanent replacement, who was expected to arrive on Monday or Tuesday.”

ITF Australia co-ordinator Dean Summers said he couldn’t remember the last time an Indian and Filipino crew refused to sail a ship.

“There was a constant threat of intimidation – ‘do this or you’ll be sent home’ – one of the seafarers felt so badly about it he went home from Gladstone,” he said.

Mr Summers said the ITF had been working to contact the seafarer to ensure his wellbeing.

“It can be a little like post-traumatic stress disorder, you live with this night and day, and it’s not very good for you,” he said.

Mr Summers said halfway through the negotiation process this weekend, the crew agreed to move the ship to another berth so another ship could come in.

“That was a measure of goodwill,” Mr Summers said. “But there wasn’t much goodwill coming from the company in Hong Kong.”

The Tintomara is owned and operated by Hong Kong-based Far East Shipping.

Mr Summers said the ITF had negotiated an ITF minimum standards agreement, as well as an indemnity agreement to ensure the crew wouldn’t receive any further intimidation or harassment from the company.

“Our mantra is that if Australian shippers were to take more responsibility in chartering these ships, we wouldn’t be faced with seafarers being starved, underpaid or intimidated,” Mr Summers said.

AMSA inspected the vessel on Monday morning, but as of 1500 Monday afternoon, it is still detained.

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