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Bulker Detained in Australia Over Unpaid Crew Wages

A Chinese-owned bulk carrier chartered to carry coal to Korea has been detained at the Port of Gladstone after crew members reported they were owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

An inspector from the International Transport Workers’ Federation boarded the Panama-flagged Fortune Genius when it docked in Gladstone on September 5, finding eight crew members from Myanmar who had been underpaid $8,000 dollars each during the past six months, totaling $64,000.

The men reported that they had been bullied and forced into working excessive hours for which they weren’t paid and asked for assistance with being repatriated to Myanmar due to concerns for their safety if they remained on the vessel.

The ITF also located fraudulent documentation, including two sets of books, which had been used to conceal the wage theft and breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention.

As a result of the ITF inspection, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained the vessel, commencing a full audit of the ship.

The bulker is owned by the China-based Marine Fortune Union Company, managed by subsidiary New Fortune Genius Management Limited, and had been chartered by Korean company Five Ocean Corporation to transport coal from Gladstone to Taean.

“We carried out an inspection of the Fortune Genius as soon as it docked in Gladstone because the owner has previously been found in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention, which every shipping company in Australian waters needs to adhere to,” Matt Purcell, ITF assistant coordinator, said.

“We will be working with AMSA and the ship owner to ensure they are paid their outstanding wages and repatriated to Myanmar before the vessel is allowed to leave Gladstone.”

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