Fishing bosses out of touch on wages and conditions

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says comments by corporate heads of New Zealand’s fishing industry shows their outlook is outdated.

He says some fishing bosses are trying to undermine a Government plan to ensure market rates were paid to all fishermen in New Zealand waters.

Mr Hanson says the moves by the Government are the result of a long process of investigation, and needed to happen to bring New Zealand into line with International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.

He says the claim by Aotearoa Fisheries CEO Robin Hapi that the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process was being undermined by raising wages in the industry was out of line.

Mr Hanson says the treaty settlement process was about fixing historical injustices, not creating present day injustices of slave labour rates for workers.

“What about the jobs for young New Zealand workers Maori, Pakeha and others? Where do they fit into the picture?”

Mr Hanson also disagreed with claims by Sanford CEO Eric Barratt that higher pay for fishermen was “social engineering” and “against New Zealand’s interests.”

He says the real interests of New Zealand should be paying workers a living wage, and ensuring there was a skilled and employed New Zealand workforce.

The situation should be examined in the light of the Department of Labour report into industry practices and the comments of other industry heads.

He says that other industry operators, such as Andrew Talley of Talley’s Fisheries, say that the use of foreign charter vessels are being subsidized by slave labour rates.

Mr Hanson says the Department of Labour report in May last year found some foreign crew were being paid as little as $195 a month, with 40c in every dollar being gouged by employment agents in the home country.

The report also indicated abuse and violence against crew members, and a poor attitude to safety at sea.

“There are operators out there who are prepared to pay appropriate rates, employ and train local workers where possible, and raise the bar on substandard conditions, and if others aren’t prepared to get on board, then too bad for them.”

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