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German bulk carrier detained after crew complain of no food, bullying and denial of shore leave

27 Mar 2019
Press Release
The Liberian-registered bulk carrier "Anna-Elisabeth" has been detained by Australian authorities after international crew on board a bulk carrier complained of insufficient food, bullying aboard the vessel and denial of shore leave.

The complaints from on board the Flag of Convenience (FoC) vessel berthed at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal were received by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on Monday 25 March and were immediately acted upon with an ITF Inspection conducted within two hours.
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,” said Summers.
The ITF was also surprised to see that the company had a new crew category of "Deck Rider" on their crew list which immediately red-flagged the qualifications of all of the crew.
The ITF requested that Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspect the vessel, citing the key issues: shore leave, lack of provisions, bullying and concern about minimum safe manning and crew qualifications.
"We asked AMSA to confirm that the crew were qualified and safe to take the ship to sea. We have reports that this has become a major problem for this company now," said Summers.
The ship was not permitted to sail by AMSA at the scheduled 6:00pm on Monday 25 March after ITF raised the alarm. Government inspectors were dispatched to the ship on Tuesday 26 March where a detailed inspection continued throughout the day.
The vessel was official 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 German owners, Johann MK Blumenthal, are notoriously anti-union and have a reputation for confrontation.
“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,” said Summers.
"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,” concluded Summers.
This is the latest example of FoC shipping and the low water mark which now sets the standards in the Australian domestic trade. FoC ships dominate the Australian coastal trade and are 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.

Click here to download video footage of food stores recorded during ITF inspection

Dean Summers, ITF national coordinator | +61 (0) 419 934 648
Luke Menzies, ITF maritime media manager | +61 (0) 433 889 844 |

About ITF
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a democratic global union federation of 665 transport workers trade unions representing over 20 million workers in 147 countries. The ITF works to improve the lives of transport workers globally, encouraging and organising international solidarity among its network of affiliates. The ITF represents the interests of transport workers' unions in bodies that take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions and safety in the transport industry.

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3 years 8 months ago

I was there onboard last 2017 ,I'm glad that somebody informed the authority.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

1 year 10 months ago


Captain Ben vivikwana
3 years 8 months ago

This is the 21st century, and we still are or have yet to get FOC vessels... Good job ITF as these ship owners believe they will get away with their greedy intentions...

My name is Mohammed Abdella
3 years 7 months ago

I am a seaman working with a long expiriance and looking haw to aplay in your company
Thank yoh

Oleksandr Matvinenkov
3 years 6 months ago

Dear all, I can not complaint about this company at all. The ships are relly good and the food is nice. I always received my monie. So I do not agree with what you are writing in your articles about Bluementhal. You should not penalise these owners as your allegations are not founded on solid evedence. Thanks. Oleg

3 years 6 months ago

Hi, How do I download the video footage of the of the food stores?