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Indonesian seafarers should stay till they are paid

11 August 2011

Indonesian seafarers should stay till they are paid

Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman should halt the deportation of 32 Indonesian seafarers, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

Last month 32 Indonesian crew walked off the Oyang 75 in Lyttelton complaining of beatings, overwork, sexual harassment and inadequate pay, clothing and food. Since then Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley announced an inquiry into conditions on these ships after several reports of underpayment and mistreatment of crew.

“Deporting the men now would be unjust and also prevent all the relevant evidence being available to the Ministerial Inquiry into the conditions on foreign charter fishing boats in New Zealand waters,” said Mr Locke.

“New Zealand has a responsibility to make sure the Oyang 75 crew get the payments they are legally entitled to. There is no guarantee the Korean owners will oblige once the crew members are back in Indonesia.

“The crew are also prime witnesses for the Minister’s inquiry, and they shouldn’t be bundled out of the country so quickly. We need their detailed evidence if the Minister’s report is to be a thorough one.

“It is shameful that New Zealand has allowed such shocking conditions to exist on these fishing boats for so long. It’s not far off slave labour, and a dark stain on New Zealand’s reputation.

“We can’t tolerate such a gross violation of the labour standards legislated for foreign charter vessels, which includes a failure to pay the New Zealand minimum wage.”

ENDS

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