Complaints about breaches against the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) on ships decreased in 2023, compared to the previous year, the Australia Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) latest report on seafarer welfare shows.

The report records an 18% decrease in complaints to AMSA about breaches to the MLC, down to 214 complaints in 2023, from 261 complaints in the previous year.

Of the complaints received in 2023, breaches of employment conditions were the most common, such as issues with wages, hours worked and hours of rest while at sea.

The majority of complaints received by AMSA in 2023 originated from seafarers themselves, indicating seafarers are aware of, and trust, Australia’s reputation as a nation that takes seafarer welfare matters seriously.

Western Australia received the most complaints (75), and bulk carriers were the vessel type with the highest complaint rate (58.9%).

In 2023, AMSA issued 1,030 MLC-related deficiencies during Port State Control inspections, resulting in 11 detentions.

Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake said while Australia’s tough action on seafarer welfare and working conditions had resulted in a reduction of complaints there is still much work to do.

“Severe underpayment, decrepit living conditions and difficulties returning to their home country are some of the abuses seafarers endure from poor employers,” he said.

“Seafarers are the backbone of the global economy, and when they are in an unacceptable working and living condition, they often suffer in silence.

“That’s why AMSA takes every complaint it receives seriously and provides support, through the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council, to organisations that provide essential services for seafarers.”