Plea for help from fishing vessel “named and shamed” in global abuse report

Burmese crew members aboard the fishing vessel “Sky 75” in the Port of Timaru have approached unions with a plea for help, a day after their vessel was “named and shamed” in an international report.

The fishing vessel “Sky 75” was featured as a specific example of crew abuse in an international report from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that was presented to a United Nations meeting on maritime law that opened in New York yesterday.

New Zealand ITF co-ordinator Kathy Whelan says the “Sky 75” is a repeat offender, and the vessel had already come to the attention of the ITF when 10 Indonesian crew left the Korean registered fishing vessel ‘Sky 75’ in the Port of Nelson in September 2005.

“We find it amazing that after all the publicity and all the promises of action after that incident, the same vessel has turned up with similar problems.”

She says a letter from crew members asked for help with their conditions of employment.

Crew say they are owed two months wages and they have been working on average 20 hours a day, when their agreement specifies 8 hours per day, and no overtime money had been received.

The letter from the Burmese crew says that the Korean officers aboard the “Sky 75” had threatened abuse against the crew and ordered them to work by kicking them with their boots and hitting with sticks.

The cost of safety and working equipment was deducted from their salaries, and meals were insufficient and irregular.

The “Sky 75” is operated by the New Zealand company Poseidon, based in Hamilton.

The crew have also asked the Port Authority to look at concerns they have about the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Ms Whelan says the ITF will be investigating the problems onboard the vessel and have asked for a Department of Labour inspection.

She says that Third World conditions are becoming the norm in parts of the New Zealand fishing industry, with the industry unwilling or unable to fix the problems.

“The answer lies in proper regulation of the industry and serious enforcement of the law, not in negotiating deals with rogue elements in the fishing industry.”

She says the Maritime Union has approached the Department of Labour to gain information on the “Sky 75” under the Official Information Act.

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