Chemical tanker Tintomara has been detained off the Queensland coast in Gladstone due to alleged labour breaches.
Chemical tanker Tintomara has been detained off the Queensland coast in Gladstone due to alleged labour breaches. Matt Taylor GLA250218

'It's barbaric': Ship could be detained for days

A SEAFARER on board a ship detained in Gladstone was sent home to India because he was too distraught to return to the vessel.

The man was one of 26 crewmen on board the Tintomara when it was detained in Gladstone on Friday by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The flag-of-convenience tanker, flying the Liberian flag, remains at Auckland Point Wharf as AMSA continues its investigation into claims of a bullying culture, non-payment of overtime, long working hours and a lack of food.

International Transport Federation national coordinator Dean Summers described the workplace conditions "horrific" and "barbaric".

A Liberian Government official may need to travel to Gladstone to help rectify the dispute, Mr Summers said.

"The main issue is that ... the captain has intimidated and bullied the crew to a degree that the crew refuse to sail that ship," he said.

"Sooner or later this company has to stick their head out of the sand and acknowledge they have a responsibility to this crew."

ITF inspector Damien McGarry, who interviewed the majority of the crew on Saturday night, claimed they were sleeping in double bunks in one room and were paid less than the average seafarer's wage of $3.50 an hour.

"It's barbaric, but they get away with it, it happens (in the industry) every week," he said.

The chief was removed from the ship on Friday night.

Mr McGarry said the captain would remain on board until a replacement was found and was under "strict instructions" not to engage with the crew.

Mr McGarry said the process of finding a new captain and chief could take days.

Meanwhile the ITF is negotiating a contract with the owner, Far East Management, which includes consequences for workplace bullying and underpayment.

Mr McGarry was confident they could reach an agreement because of the cost involved in having a ship detained.

Mr Summers said poor workplace conditions were rife in the international shipping industry.

"We want the owners to sign an agreement with the ITF to cover those men on board for bullying and harassment and to ensure they will be treated fairly," he said.

"Unfortunately it happens all too often, we see ships laden with tens of thousands of tonnes of coal from Gladstone, yet no food on board for the crew.

"We're happy to work with the company, we're either a very good friend or a bad opponent and all they have to do is pay their crew right and make sure senior personnel aren't threatening people."

The Tintomara's crew is made up of sailors from the Philippines, Bangladesh and India.


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