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'Hook, Line, Sinker and Sunk'

'Hook, Line, Sinker and Sunk - the lure and illusion of concern for the lowly waged fishers'

Tariana Turia, Fisheries Spokesperson for the Maori Party

"The policy change currently under consideration to increase the wages on foreign charter vessels will threaten the viability of the Maori fishing industry and undermine the gains by tangata whenua" says Tariana Turia, Co-Leader and Fisheries spokesperson for the Maori Party.

The Maori Party supports the call from Raukura Moana Fisheries, Ngati Kahungunu and Aotearoa Fisheries for the Government to urgently reconsider their proposals to impose new and higher wage rates for crew on foreign charter vessels.

"Again we have another irony perpetrated by the State” commented Mrs Turia.

“After enticing Maori through the Sealords deal in to fishing, Maori, who own half the company are now being asked to foot an increase in the wage bill at the behest of a government who has little interest in the working poor" said Mrs Turia.

"Aotearoa, for example, currently pay wages to foreign fishers in excess of comparable wages in their country of origin” explained Mrs Turia, “like they do for the workers on the foreign fishing fleet from the Ukraine. The wages are negotiated and set according to current New Zealand legislative criteria".

Crew on foreign vessels are already covered by the requirement to comply with the wages and conditions set in the Minimum Wages Act; and wage protection laws.

"We know the foreign charter fleets do not compete for the same fish species. Maori who entered the deepwater fisheries quota later than other New Zealand fishing companies have 80% of their quota caught by foreign charter vessels and yet are still building up their business infrastructures” said Mrs Turia. “This wage cost increase seriously threatens that”.

“If the foreign charter vessels are not used, Maori will have to lease their quota to the established New Zealand companies and in the process lose control. Rangatiratanga and self determination will be seriously threatened" warned Mrs Turia.

"Instead of being active participants and in control we will become passive recipients, power being in the hands of another - we have had enough of that” .

"It is ironic that the Government as the major shareholder in Air New Zealand has no difficulty in letting work for aircraft maintenance out to China, threatening the livelihood of New Zealand workers; and then moving some of its administration to Fiji because it is more "competitive" - in other words, cheaper because of low wages".

“Is the Government concern for low wages for foreign workers such that it will insist that wages paid to the Chinese and Fijian workers doing work for its airline, to be commensurate with the wages paid to New Zealand workers" asked Mrs Turia. "Or is it another case of double standards at play?"

"This policy initiative reeks of hypocrisy " stated Mrs Turia.

"All workers deserve to be properly paid and any government seriously wishing to address that, should start here at home. With the New Zealand fishing industry being so highly politicised, with competition for fish resources and different species so intense, I am sure there is more to this than simply a concern to raise the wages of foreign fishers" says Mrs Turia.

ends

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