‘Ship of shame’ sugar deal reckless: union

THE International Transport Workers' Federation has slammed Queensland Sugar Ltd, branding the company reckless for granting the Ken Sirius - a "ship of shame" - with "a lucrative shipping deal".

The explosive claims come after the Greek-owned Liberian ship's crew allegedly contacted the Queensland water police "begging for food and water" at the anchorage off Townsville, the union says.

ITF national co-ordinator Dean Summers said minimum stores were only taken out to the crew after the ITF intervened.

The Flag of Convenience ship at the centre of this dispute - Ken Sirius - came into the QSL terminal in Mackay at the weekend and loaded Australian sugar.

"Obscene violations of human and workers' rights are being seen more regularly in Australian ports and, under the Federal Government's policies, in our own domestic markets," Mr Summers said. "While the cost to unfortunate workers ... may never be known, it's time for QSL to think about the seafarers upon whose misery their profits are made."

A QSL spokesperson said QSL "always seeks to charter high-quality ships from reputable shipping companies and was disappointed to learn of concerns regarding this vessel chartered on our behalf by a third party".

"The vessel had been discharging at Australian ports without apparent incident for over a month prior to being secured for the QSL shipment."

The spokesperson said after the ITF raised concerns, QSL confirmed that crew's welfare concerns had been addressed and the ship had received provisions prior to its arrival at the Mackay port.

"These provisions were supplemented further by additional supplies delivered while the ship was in Mackay. Our shipping standards are among the highest in Australia and we continue to work closely with our suite of service providers to ensure any future sub-chartering arrangements reflect QSL's ongoing commitment to the highest standards for both vessels and crew conditions."


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