Sunday, June 17, 2012

We must stop the abuse of Indonesian fishing crews.

It has been known that for some time, Indonesian (and probably others) crew members have been badly treated whilst working in NZ waters for foreign owned fishing boats. These boats are contracted to fish for NZ companies so we have a responsibility on two counts; firstly they should be operating under NZ laws and they must meet NZ standards.
Some the information about what has been happening came to light when Indonesian workers jumped ship, bringing to light the terrible conditions under which they had been forced to work.
Many of these men were recruited from poor areas in Java. That is not an excuse to exploit these men. They may have been desperate for work, but what they found once they were contracted was far beneath their expectations. It is alleged and recently proven that the men often went unpaid and suffered abuse from the Korean officers; both physical and sexual.
NZ authorities have known about these allegations for at least a decade and it is only now that our officials (supported by NZ unions) have taken the complaints seriously and acted on them. That it has taken so long is shameful for NZ.
If the men receive compensation and the perpetrators of the abuse are brought to account, then that is good. If that leads to paying the Indonesian workers a fair wage and treating them with respect, then too bad if we have to pay more for our fish. We cannot speak in world forums about other transgressions, if we let these acts happen on our watch. It is good that NZ is supporting the men in their efforts to get a fair deal. Isn’t that what we take so much pride in as a nation?