Wednesday, March 27, 2019

International Maritime Union Interests Declare War on German Flag of Convenience Ship Owners

Information Leads to Inspection and Detention by the Authorities
Shipping News Feature
AUSTRALIA – A call from the crew of a bulk carrier berthed at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal on Monday 25 March led to an immediate inspection of the ship after the report complained of insufficient food, bullying aboard the vessel and denial of shore leave.

Within two hours of the information arriving at the local International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) office the complaints from on board the Flag of Convenience (FoC) vessel were verified by the ITF inspector and the Australian authorities were alerted.

The Liberian registered ship Anna-Elisabeth was then detained after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) were made aware of the complaints and an official inspection took place during the rest of the following day. ITF national coordinator Dean Summers substantiated the crew’s serious concern finding inadequate stores on board and that crew had not had shore leave since 23 January in South Africa.

“Meat and fish were freezer burnt and fresh provisions were very low, certainly not enough to get 17 seafarers to Singapore. It is our suspicion that this company is under intense financial pressure and have sought to save money wherever they can. The master confirmed the food ration was $7 per day for all meals.”

Another factor which red-flagged the dubious qualifications of all of the crew arose when it was noted the operator, German owners, Johann MK Blumenthal, had classified some of the crew as ‘deck riders’. The ITF have asked AMSA to confirm the crew are all trained and competent seafarers.

The vessel has been officially detained by AMSA under the Maritime Labour Convention. The Liberian register is reportedly sending a representative to the ship to work with the master and owners to rectify the long list of deficiencies.

The ITF says that FoC ships dominate the Australian coastal trade and are currently at the centre of a dispute between maritime unions and BHP and BlueScope after the companies replaced the last two Australian-crewed bulk ships with foreign seafarers on FoC conditions.

Owners of the Anna-Elisabeth, Hamburg headquartered Johann MK Blumenthal, stand accused by the ITF of being both notoriously anti-union and confrontational leading Summers to continue:

“We are asking the Australian Government to send an urgent alert around the shipping world to audit and detain Blumenthal ships wherever breaches to human rights and workers’ rights are found. Clearly, the only thing these belly robbers understand is cost and profit. These kinds of breaches can only be systemic to this company and is certainly symptomatic of the FoC system that allows for exploitation and labour abuse of international seafarers.

“In recent weeks, ITF inspectors in Europe have uncovered other cases of food shortages on Blumenthal vessels. So right now, Blumenthal is a priority for the ITF, and we will continue to inspect their vessels in ports around the world to ensure that more than 700 seafarers across their fleet aren’t subjected to these exploitative practices.”

Photo: The Anna-Elisabeth taking on coal.