Australian authorities have handed down another lengthy vessel ban, preventing a Chinese-owned panamax from entering its waters for 12 months.
The 85,300-dwt MSXT Emily (built 2022) was banned after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority found “apparent serious issues of wage theft and seafarer mistreatment onboard”.
The failings aboard the Liberian-flag ship were discovered following a tip-off from the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The vessel, which is said to be owned by CSSC Shipping, had been chartered by K Line to load a cargo of coal for discharge in Japan.
Australia’s national regulatory body AMSA said a subsequent inspection of the ship at the Port of Hay Point, in Queensland, found evidence of several violations of the Maritime Labour Convention.
“Seafarers on board the vessel had not been paid in accordance with their seafarer employment agreements, four contained apparently forged signatures from employees, and five seafarers appeared to have been coerced into signing new employment agreements which had lower salaries,” AMSA said.
“In one case, a seafarer had signed a new contract, while they still held a contract valid for a further four months, for 50% less pay.”
Inspectors are said to have found evidence that more than $77,000 in unpaid wages had been owed to seafarers working on board the ship.
AMSA said the ship’s operator MSM Ship Management Pte Ltd China attempted to pay the amount owed once they were aware that AMSA inspectors were on board.
AMSA executive director of operations Michael Drake described the case as a “serious case of seafarer mistreatment”.
“Wage theft, forgery and coercion are serious matters, and I have been deeply troubled to hear of the conditions on the MSXT Emily,” he said.
“The workforce conditions on board this vessel are a disgrace, and AMSA will not tolerate this in Australian waters.
“I would like to acknowledge the role of the ITF in bringing this matter to our attention and thank them for their continued advocacy for seafarer rights and welfare,” he added.
Drake said a one-year ban was “necessary to send the message that seafarer welfare should be a priority for every shipping operator”.
He added that vessel charterers such as K Line need to “carefully consider” which operators they engage with to bring vessels to Australia.
“We’re imposing this lengthy ban as a clear deterrent and recognise that these essential workers deserve the dignity and respect of fair pay and good workplace conditions,” he said.