The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) has started an inspection and auditing campaign on labour standards involving the ships of Johann MK Blumenthal (Bluships) following the detention of one of its vessels in Australia.

The union said it would use its global network of 147 inspectors around the world to check on labour standards on the German owner’s ships.

The move follows the detention of the 58,000-dwt Anna-Elisabeth (built 2008) in Australia for breach of Maritime Labour Convention standards.

The union said it wants to open a dialogue with Bluships’ chief executive Matthais K Reith on improving conditions on its fleet.

ITF inspector Sven Hemme said: “The ITF is challenging one of Germany’s oldest shipping companies to modernise its business practices in line with what is expected of multinational companies in 2019.

“We are increasingly seeing responsible charterers play a critical and proactive role in this space, selecting ITF-certified ships when deciding on what vessels to charter. The reality is that an unregulated FoC system, a system that allows for exploitation and labour abuse of international seafarers, is a risk that responsible charterers aren’t willing to take.”

He added: "We are calling on Blumenthal to be part of the change and help change the world’s maritime industry, and bring all their vessels under ITF agreements and agree to a transparent compliance process that ensures seafarer’s rights, freedoms and working conditions are respected.”

Bluships was contacted for comment.