The Maritime Union says a plan by the Department of Labour to track down ship jumping crews by employing a private investigator is questionable at the least.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that private investigators may be in favour of the plan as it will ensure an endless income stream for them in the future, but it would not solve ship jumping.
“The simple reason that crews of foreign vessels are jumping ship is that they are underpaid, exploited and abused, and they are sourced overseas from unreputable agents who extract a major part of these unfortunate individuals wages for themselves.”
He says he can’t understand why the Department of Labour doesn’t focus on the real issue rather than coming up with strange ideas.
“The Government must ensure that before a foreign vessel fishes on the New Zealand coast it must comply to a set of regulations, and failure by any foreign
vessel to meet these conditions simply means they don’t work on our coast.”
Mr Hanson says the release of a report earlier this week into the treatment of overseas crews in the New Zealand fishing industry detailed shocking examples of worker abuse, yet officials seemed to be soft-pedalling on the issue.
“Instead of bringing in snoops to harass workers, the Department of Labour should be doing its job by protecting workers and putting inspectors on board fishing vessels.”
He says that the Maritime Union also regularly deals with or sees cases of mistreatment of crews aboard foreign vessels.
Mr Hanson says ship jumpers also came off “Flag of Convenience” ships that carried the vast majority of cargo into, out of and domestically on the New Zealand coast.
He says the international shipping companies operate as price-fixing cartels, causing great harm to New Zealand as an exporting nation, as well as in some cases underpaying their crew.
“The only long term solution to our shipping crisis and crew jumping is a much greater level of regulation and public control of our shipping.”