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Fishing slavery laws should be passed urgently

Darien FENTON

Associate Immigration Spokesperson

Associate Labour Spokesperson

15 January 2014                                                    MEDIA STATEMENT

Fishing slavery laws should be passed urgently

National has a big “to do” list in 2014 if it is to deliver on its promises to clean up migrant worker abuse and slavery in the fishing industry, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s Associate Immigration and Labour issues spokesperson.

“It is almost two years since the Government concluded a Ministerial Inquiry into the use of foreign charter vessels after national and international accusations of slave labour in New Zealand waters. 

“However legislation to implement the recommendations, including a requirement that all vessels be New Zealand flagged by 2016 is yet to be passed.

“New Zealand’s use of cheap labour on fishing boats was scathingly labelled ‘21st Century slavery’ in a US State Department report released in mid-2012.

“It cited conditions of forced labour, including debt bondage, imposition of significant debts, physical violence, mental abuse and excessive hours of work aboard vessels in New Zealand waters.

“The issue was mentioned more recently in the Global Slavery Index and will continue to be an embarrassing topic of discussion until the Government gets its act together and passes the necessary law.

“Such criticism has a major impact on our international reputation. The Government 
could easily put these concerns to rest by bringing its legislation to the top of the government order paper in 2014, something Labour is urging it to do.”

ENDS

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