Seafarer Dies On Board, Sick Crew Told to Pay

file photo: Gladstone

By MarEx 2016-01-05 16:20:01

The International Transport Workers’ Federation has formally called for a coronial inquest into the death of a 26-year-old Filipino seafarer on board a Panamanian registered coal carrier.

Christian Borbon died on 19 December 2015 on board the Japanese owned, Panamanian registered Beaufix, while on route from China to Gladstone to load Australian coal.

The seafarer was diagnosed with tonsillitis in China but died a number of days after leaving Shanghai on December 13, 2015, says ITF national co-ordinator Dean Summers. 

“Nine of the surviving crew complained of similar symptoms, but we are told they would need to pay $500 each to see a doctor in the first port of Gladstone,” Summers said.  

“These seafarers are paid so little they do not have $500 to pay for a medical out of their own money which by law must be provided free by the shipping company.”

The ship has now sailed from Gladstone and is alongside in Mackay where the ITF has forced the issue, and seafarers are receiving medical advice. 

The ITF inspection had also identified that there was an issue with the ship's supply of drinking water after the on board water maker broke. The company, Nissen Kaiun, has now fixed the water maker.

The body of the young Filipino seafarer has been taken to Rockhampton for an autopsy. Under direction from the ship's master, the crew had cleaned him, changed his clothes and wrapped his body in plastic and masking tape.

More Deaths

Australia is currently undertaking a coronial inquest into the three fatalities that occurred on board the Sage Sagittarius, or "Death Ship", between August and October 2012. 

“As the body count increases from flag of convenience shipping, our federal government continues to dismantle the Australian industry, replacing it with this de-registered, disgraceful form of shipping,” said Summers.

Alcoa Dispute

A dispute is currently raging over a temporary license the Australian federal government granted to Alcoa allowing it to use foreign-flagged vessels.

“Companies like Alcoa are now replacing safe, secure, environmentally responsible domestic shipping with the cheapest, nastiest flag of convenience on offer,” says Summers.

“Since that license was granted, the senate voted to retain the current coastal shipping laws, and the government should act in line with the intent of that legislation by cancelling Alcoa’s temporary license.”