The Australian authorities have banned a bulk carrier from entering its waters for 12 months.

The refusal of access direction notice, issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), has been applied to the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier MSXT Emily.

The ship was banned after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) found “apparent serious issues of wage theft and seafarer mistreatment onboard.”

The failings aboard the Liberian-flagged ship were discovered following a tip-off from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

AMSA said an inspection of the ship at the Port of Hay Point, in Queensland, found evidence of several violations of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

The vessel had been chartered by K-Line to load a cargo of coal for discharge in Japan, in accordance with AMSA official statement.

“Seafarers onboard the vessel had not been paid in accordance with their seafarer employment agreements (employment contracts), four contained apparently-forged signatures from employees, and five seafarers appeared to have been coerced into signing new employment agreements which had lower salaries,” AMSA said.

“In one case, a seafarer had signed a new contract, while they still held a contract valid for a further four months, for 50 per cent less pay.”

Inspectors are said to have found evidence that more than US$77,000 in unpaid wages had been owed to seafarers working onboard the MSXT Emily.

The AMSA claimed that the “ship’s operators MSM Ship Management Pte Ltd China attempted to pay the amount owed once they were aware that AMSA inspectors were onboard.”

AMSA executive director of operations Michael Drake said this was a serious case of “seafarer mistreatment.”

“Wage theft, forgery and coercion are serious matters, and I have been deeply troubled to hear of the conditions on the MSXT Emily,” he said.

Mr Drake said that a one-year ban was necessary to send the message that seafarer welfare should be a priority for every shipping operator.

“Our modern economy relies on the hard work these seafarers do, and when they are mistreated, the flow-on effects can be numerous,” he said.

“Seafarers are at sea for months at a time, and if morale is low or they are in poor physical and mental health, it can increase the risk of something going wrong.”

He added that “the supply chain, including vessel charters like K-Line, need to carefully consider which operators they engage to bring vessels to Australia.”

“We’re imposing this lengthy ban as a clear deterrent and recognise that these essential workers deserve the dignity and respect of fair pay and good workplace conditions,” he also mentioned.