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A grim Christmas for foreign fishing crews

Wednesday 14 December 2005

A grim Christmas for foreign fishing crews

The Maritime Union says the arrest of shipjumpers in Nelson is not solving the cause of the problem.

Six Vietnamese shipjumpers were arrested on Tuesday night in Nelson. Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says action is needed to ensure that crew members are being employed under decent conditions.

“This Christmas, there will be overseas crews working in New Zealand waters in dangerous conditions, for low pay, suffering abuse and exploitation, while we turn a blind eye because it is making a fat profit for someone.”

Mr Hanson says pressure must go on on employers, not the penniless victims of the current system.

He says if the authorities are serious about ending shipjumping, the answer is simple – they must end exploitation and abuse of overseas crew aboard fishing vessels working in New Zealand waters.

“If the overseas crew were being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, they’d be running up the gangway.” Mr Hanson says the crew members are so desperate they will go on the run, living and working in constant fear, ripe for abuse and exploitation.

“The fact they prefer to do this rather than stay on board the fishing vessels shows what is going on off the coast of New Zealand.”

He says that treating the shipjumpers like criminals is simply drawing attention away from the ugly side of “pirate capitalism.” Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union is concerned that under free trade agreements, the use of low-wage, casual workers imported from overseas will become normal.

ENDS

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