||Issue No. 328||13 October 2006|
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
The Unpromised Land
AWB Sets New Low
A ship, chartered by the Board, was stuck off South Australia this week when Filipinos refused to sail until pay and conditions were improved.
Sailors on board the Liberian-registered 'flag of convenience' ship Boreal had been paid just half the internationally accepted rate in more than six months at sea.
Eight crew members contacted the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to complain about pay and conditions on the ship, which was loaded with 72,000 tonnes of Australian wheat destined for Sudan.
During a 24-hour standoff, the ship's German owners Orion Bulk Ships threatened to set sail and leave the eight Filipinos stranded at South Australia's Port Lincoln, said ITF's Australian coordinator Dean Summers.
In a resolution reached late Wednesday the sailors would be backpaid to the ITF minimum standard for developing world crews, and would be repatriated to the Philippines, Summers said.
Flag of convenience ships - owned by one country but registered in another to take advantage of lower tax and registrations standards - commonly operate with appalling labour practices as the crews are isolated at sea for many months, Summers said.
"Some of them are good ... But many of them are absolute pirates, and we see some of the worst ways bosses treat workers."
Companies chartering the ships share the responsibility for treatment of crew members, Summers said.
"Organisations like AWB, Rio Tinto and BHP charter many of these vessels. We've asked them to include in their contracts an ITF agreement for crew pay and conditions - all we want is for them to subscribe to minimum conditions."
As Workers Online went to press, a Panamian-flagged ship carrying pipes for the oil and gas fields off Western Australia was refusing ITF access on board at Henderson Port South of Fremantle.
"This must be one of the most profitable industries in the world, what have they got to hide in the treatment of their crew?" asked Summers.
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