The International Transport Federation (ITF) today condemned the banning of its Australian-based coordinator, Dean Summers, from foreign-registered Ships of Shame berthed at P&O docks.

The Maritime Union of Australia called on P&O to immediately lift the ban on the ITF inspector and allow him to proceed unhindered in his inspection of ships during this ITF Week of Action in Australia and the South Pacific.

The ITF Week of Action targets the notorious Ships of Shame for inspections. Prior to the P&O ban, it was expected that some 100 ships would be inspected at Australian ports this week. In the past, these inspections have uncovered cases of gross underpayment of crews and exposed some shocking cases of dangerous rust-bucket flag of convenience vessels described as floating time bombs.

The P&O ban was sparked by attempts by Dean Summers to inspect the foreign-registered flag of convenience ship, ANL Excellence, following reports of the Pacific Island crew being paid low wages. Dean Summers was also concerned for the crew’s welfare. The German captain of the vessel refused to cooperate with the ITF inspection and shortly after Mr Summers was informed by P&O that he was banned from entering ships berthed at its ports.

“P&O told me that they were reacting to complaints by ‘clients’ but refused to say who they were”, said Dean Summers. “This ban is a complete break from past practices. This ITF Week of Action has been incredibly successful in the past in exposing all kinds of rip-offs of crews by Ships of Shame. ANL has a sorry record in this regard and only recently had to settle after we intervened on behalf of the crew of the ANL Progress when they complained of being paid lower wages than they were entitled to”.

Dean Summers remains concerned for the Kiribati crew of the ANL Excellence. Summers is the ITF’s National Coordinator for Australia and Kiribas. “I’m keen to find out what they are hiding from us and we also want to know why P&O is conspiring with the Ships of Shame to ban the ITF from what we believe could be an attempted cover-up”, he said.