A Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Agia Sofia has been banned from Australian ports for six months after authorities discovered seafarers on board were being underpaid.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspected the 82,045 dwt panamax bulker at Hay Point in Mackay on Saturday after receiving a complaint via the International Transport Workers’ Federation and found evidence that some of the ship’s crew had not received their full wages since August 2019. The outstanding wages total about AUD $45,000 (US $32,000).
AMSA said it has taken steps to ensure that the seafarers are paid in full before the ship i s cleared to leave Australia.
The 229-meter bulk carrier was built in 2016 and is owned by Greek company Marmaras Navigation Ltd. AMSA Acting General Manager Operations Michael Drake said it wasn’t the first time this company had been caught underpaying crew in Australian waters. “In January 2018 AMSA detained another company ship, Koundouros, at Port Walcott for owing its seafarers more than AUD $7500,” he said.
“The operator was fortunate that AMSA did not ban Koundouros at the time and those seafarers were paid their outstanding wages before the ship was allowed to leave,” Drake continued. “Bringing a second ship, Agia Sofia, to Australia with the same breach is inexcusable and has left us with little choice but to ban this ship from Australian ports.”
Drake noted seafarers are making enormous sacrifices right now by being away for extended periods of time from their loved ones, just to keep critical global trade moving.
“Abusing their most basic rights to be paid for the work they are doing is shameful behavior on the part of this shipping company,” Drake said.
“We do not tolerate that in Australian waters and Agia Sofia is now the third ship in the last 12 months to be banned by AMSA for failing to pay seafarers their wages in full and on time.