THE INTERNATIONAL Transport Workers’ Federation is expanding its Nowhere to Hide inspection campaign to include New Zealand ports.

The ITF Australian inspectorate recently concluded a week of action at ports in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, which uncovered $5.4 million in unpaid wages across 74 inspections.

The campaign aims to increase the number of vessel inspections and the number of inspection participants to identify cases of crew underpayment.

ITF said it entered the new co-operative arrangement between maritime workers unions in the South Pacific to broaden the reach of the campaign.

The Maritime Union of New Zealand had sent a delegation of ITF volunteers to Australia to participate.

ITF said Australian senators Tony Sheldon from NSW and Glenn Sterle from WA also participated in the campaign.

“We were keen to put into action what we learned about the plight of vulnerable seafarers aboard international cargo ships in our ports,” Mr Sheldon said.

“As ITF volunteers we went up the gangways of these ships and performed thorough workplace inspections, audits of payments, and ensured the laws and standards which govern international shipping in Australia were being met.”

Mr Sterle said ITF inspectors do more than recover stolen wages.

“They are on the frontline ensuring important safety standards are met, that medical care is provided to sick or injured seafarers, and that the human rights of visiting seafarers are respected in Australia ports by employers and terminal operators, including access to shore leave and repatriation.”

Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Craig Harrison said the union was proud to join the campaign as it expands into NZ.

“Neither the Australian nor Kiwi people will tolerate mistreatment or abuse of vulnerable seafarers, so our warning to the owners of these ships of shame is that we will find you, catch you and hold you to account,” Mr Harrison said.

ITF inspectors also aim to enforce rules that permit international seafarers to be repatriated home at the cost of their employer.

Inspectors also meet with crews to identify and address bullying, harassment, intimidation and other workplace issues on board ships calling Australian ports.