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Crew wages, MLC and AMSA

AMSA is one of the few port state control authorities that comes down hard on ship owners who underpay its crew. Over the years many ships have been banned from Australian waters for what AMSA terms as modern day slavery. In The Fortune Genius [2020], the owner decided to appeal the year long ban. Did they succeed?

Following a complaint, AMSA boarded the ship and detained her for a number of deficiencies relating to crew wages/MLC, such as - 2 wage accounts maintained; full payments not made; crew coerced to sign false wage statements; and home allotments not made. She was banned from entering Aus for a yr.

Owners appealed and argued that the period should be reduced to 3 months for reasons such as - there were no prior findings against them for ill treatment of crew; they had no knowledge that crewing agency was underpaying the crew; & failure to pay was not a systemic issue caused by owners.

The tribunal noted that the operation to defraud crew was premeditated & the Master did not cooperate with AMSA. The argument that owners had yet to familiarize themselves with vessel's manning arrangements was a non-starter. In tribunal's view the exclusion for 365 days was sufficiently long to act as a deterrent for not only them but other owners/operators too.


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