Inspections by ITF inspectors in Western Port and Port Kembla of the BlueScope chartered bulk carrier 'Ken Ei', in January, led to $38,384 in coastal wages being paid immediately in cash to the 20 Filipino seafarers crewing the ship, ITF informed.

Upon arriving in Western Port, the crew on the KEN EI immediately asked our inspector about claims for payment for two coastal voyages and requested that the ITF contact the shipowner as they had no correspondence or indication that they would be paid by either the shipowner or charterers BlueScope and Rio Tinto,

...said ITF national coordinator Dean Summers.

Seafarers working Flag of Convenience (FoC) ships are subjected to exploitation, poor working conditions and wages and are often at the mercy of a system that allows for minimum regulation.

In December last year alone, ITF inspectors conducted 761 inspections and recovered almost $2 million in wages stolen from seafarers, according to Mr. Summers.

The news comes only a few days after the ITF voiced concerns over the decision of BHP to fire Australian crew from two vessels that carried iron ore from Port Hedland in Western Australia to steelworks in Port Kembla and to China.

As a result, 80 Australian seafarers will lose their jobs and it will result to shutting down Australian-crewed iron ore shipping that were serving BHP and BlueScope steelworks, and will be replaced by foreign crew on Flag of Convenience vessels.