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National week of action targets ships at Australian port
16 November 2012
An ITF week of action targeting flag of convenience (FOC) vessels in an Australian port got off the ground earlier this week.
ITF inspectors have been investigating conditions on board FOC vessels entering Newcastle Port during the week of action from 12-16 November; it also involves representatives from Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand.
ITF national coordinator Dean Summers said: “Newcastle Port is the biggest coal terminal in the world and ships from this port are responsible for taking our products to the international market.”
“We are boarding ships to protect the welfare, safety and dignity of international seafarers and we will be reporting to Australian authorities any abuse of rights or safety issues.
“Ships that trade FOC rather than national flags are ‘ships of shame’ – they refuse to be bound by national laws regarding minimum safety standards, working conditions and the right to be paid.
“Since January, in Australia we have helped international seafarers claim AUS$1.5 million (US$1.54 million) in back pay from shipping companies that exploit the opportunities presented under the FOC,” said Summers.
The action follows a spate of fatalities on FOC ships, among them the Panama-flagged Sage Sagittarius, which was in Australian waters last month; three of its crew were killed on board within a six-week period. The incidents are being investigated by the Australian police, New South Wales police and the Japanese authorities; however, the ITF is demanding that the Australian government hold an inquiry into the deaths.
Summers said that the week of action was dedicated to the three who died – Hector Collado, Cesar Llanto, and Kosaku Monji.
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