A Chinese-owned bulk carrier, the Panama-flagged Fortune Genius, which was chartered to carry coal to Korea has been detained at the Port of Gladstone by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after crew members reported they were owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. An inspector from the International Transport Workers’ Federation boarded the vessel when it docked in Gladstone on September 5th. They allegedly found eight crew members from Myanmar who had been underpaid $8,000 each over the previous six months. The men reported that they had been bullied and forced into working excessive hours, for which they had not been paid. They asked for assistance with being repatriated to Myanmar as they were concerned about their safety on the vessel.
The ITF said that it had also located fraudulent documentation, including two sets of books, which had been used to conceal the wage theft and breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention.
As a result of the ITF inspection AMSA detained the vessel, commencing a full audit of the ship. Fortune Genius is owned by China-based Marine Fortune Union Co and managed by subsidiary New Fortune Genius Management Ltd, the ITF said, adding thast she had been chartered by Korean company Five Ocean Corporation to transport coal from Gladstone to Taean.
ITF assistant coordinator Matt Purcell said: “We carried out an inspection of the Fortune Genius as soon as it docked in Gladstone because the owner has previously been found in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said that “AMSA must also investigate the Myanmar-based manning agents responsible for recruiting this crew into employment arrangements that were not only exploitative, but a breach of international law”.