Australian Seafarers Offer to Man Five Stars Fujian
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is demanding that the 20 seafarers stranded off Australia’s Queensland coast on board the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier, Five Stars Fujian, be allowed to come ashore until the dispute is resolved.
“The Federal Government needs to intervene today, get the crew landside, while a proper investigation is conducted and the crew are able to access the services they need. These are people, not political pawns,” says ITF Australia Acting Coordinator Matt Purcell.
“There are hundreds of qualified, unemployed Australian seafarers that are able to look after the ship in the meantime.”
The Chinese crew have been stuck aboard the ship for a month after the vessel’s owners disappeared without paying the worker’s wages or replenishing the ship’s supplies and food.
The ship is being detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) due to breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention relating to lack of food supplies and unpaid crew wages.
Both the ITF and the welfare agency Mission to Seafarers have been denied access to the ship, which is at anchorage off the coast of Gladstone. This is in contravention to international maritime law, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, says Purcell.
AMSA officials reportedly visited the ship again on Friday with members of the Chinese Consulate.
“So far, the Australian taxpayer has been responsible for looking after the distressed crew because the owners cannot be located,” Purcell said.
“This unfortunately is a common feature of international shipping, which is riddled with corruption and law breaking, because there is little to zero recourse, even when those ships are trading in Australian waters.
“If that vessel sails in the near future, without evidence that everything is above board, it would be a breach of the Maritime Labor Convention,” he says.
Ports Minister Mark Bailey condemned the heartless and inhumane disregard for the welfare of crew members by the ship owners.
“No seafarer should be abandoned by the employer on the other side of the globe, let alone be left without basic provisions. It’s shameful and disrespectful behavior,” he said.