An absolutely appalling situation was uncovered in the Australian port of Mackay where five crew members of a Korean bulk carrier were allegedly denied basic rights such as access to food and were forced to work without pay.
The Maritime Union of Australia said one crewmember aboard the C. Summit was found to have malnutrition and a further four claimied they feared for their lives. The ship is owned by Seoul-headquartered Chang Myung Shipping.
The accusations have been substantiated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), following an inspection of the vessel. ITF Assistant National Coordinator Matt Purcell said the crew, a mix of Cambodians and Burmese, had been subject to the worst kind of bullying he had encountered.
“We have discovered two contracts, one contract was the one the workers signed prior to boarding and the other, which doesn’t meet even the most basic international standards, was signed shortly after the crew joined the ship,” Purcell said.
“The crew claim they have received no wages for several months and are forced to do jobs outside of their requirements. “They have been locked in hatches and have survived on what I can only describe as a starvation diet.” One of the fi ve rescued crew told Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail that the crew thad not been paid for three months, had been fed on a reward system, made to work 20 hours a day, and locked in a cargo hold shovelling coal for up to 12 hours at a time. The Indonesian shipmate said the ship’s captain had threatened to kill them and “make it look like suicide”. Media reports also indicate Chang Myung is a repeat offender in that defi ciencies have been noted by a number of different port state control areas. The ship was found to be breaching labour standards in Denmark as recently as November last year.