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Maritime Union says the truth must come out

Maritime Union says the truth must come out from fishing report

The Maritime Union says the suppression of a Government report into the treatment of fishing crews is starting to look like a coverup.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the exploitation of overseas fishing crews is leading to job losses as local workers are pushed out as wages and conditions sink lower.

"We are seeing an entire area of the New Zealand economy operating in a 'grey zone' outside the standards expected in land-based industry."

A Sunday Star Times investigation (24 April 2005) quotes Department of Labour officials saying that it is against the public interest and natural justice to release the report.

Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union strongly disagrees with such a view.

"What about the natural justice for the New Zealand fishermen who have lost their jobs?"

"The situation of the international crews on these fishing boats is a national disgrace - if the report shows that there is exploitation going on, then it is vital to the public interest that it is released. What are they hiding?"

The Maritime Union endorsed the comments of Fishing Industry Guild organizer Louis Hart who has brought attention to allegations of underpayment of foreign crew members.

Mr Hanson says the issue is a warning sign of where New Zealand is going under free trade deals and the globalization of workers.

He says the Maritime Union recently dealt with foreign workers being brought in illegally and housed in containers on the Lyttelton waterfront, and there were disturbing parallels in how the situation had been dealt with by the Government.

"In that case the Government seemed to be more interested in helping out companies who had flouted regulations, and now it seems they are allowing private interests to control a public inquiry into the fishing industry."

Mr Hanson says New Zealand as a nation has the right to ensure New Zealand resources and industries are managed in a sustainable manner for future generations.

ENDS

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