THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority in 2023 received fewer complaints about Maritime Labour Convention breaches, but the number of injuries reported to AMSA has increased.

The AMSA MLC Annual Report 2023, published last week on 9 May, contains data on MLC complaints, serious injuries, fatalities, vessel detentions and other issues in Australian waters last year.

AMSA received 214 complaints of MLC breaches in 2023, which was an 18% decrease from the 261 complaints recorded the previous year. This figure has been declining since the 2020 peak of 320 complaints, but it is still higher than the 148 complaints recorded in 2019.

The most common complaints last year were related to breaches of employment conditions. AMSA highlighted issues around wages, hours worked and hours of rest while at sea.

Most complaints received by AMSA in 2023 came from seafarers themselves. Fifty-nine per cent of the complaints were from those engaged on bulk carriers, which accounted for 50% of all arrivals and 52% of initial port state control inspections.

Western Australia received the highest number of complaints (75) followed by Queensland (54) and New South Wales (24). AMSA noted WA and Queensland represented the majority of vessel arrivals in Australia last year.

And there were 74 serious injuries reported to AMSA in 2023, which is a 28% increase from the 58 injuries reported in the previous year, but slightly lower than the 77 injuries reported in 2021.

AMSA executive director operations Michael Drake said Australia’s “tough action” on seafarer welfare and working conditions had resulted in a reduction of complaints but, there is still lots of work to do.

“Severe underpayment, decrepit living conditions and difficulties returning to their home country are some of the abuses seafarers endure from poor employers,” he said.

“Seafarers are the backbone of the global economy, and when they are in an unacceptable working and living condition, they often suffer in silence.

“That’s why AMSA takes every complaint it receives seriously and provides support, through the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council, to organisations that provide essential services for seafarers.”

AMSA intends to incorporate the data from this latest report into the authority’s next National Compliance Plan, due to be published later this year.