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Not in New Zealand's waters, surely?

human rights abuses on ship( The University of Auckland Business School) - A potentially contentious report depicting serious human rights and labour abuses of crew working on foreign-owned fishing vessels within New Zealand's exclusive economic zone was launched in August 2011, at The University of Auckland Business School.


Using the global value chain and global production network frameworks the research examines, from an institutional perspective, which institutions are responsible for the working conditions of an important but largely invisible and vulnerable workforce on-board foreign charter vessels in New Zealand waters.


The report was written by Management and International Business staff, Dr. Christina Stringer and Glenn Simmons, as well as Daren Coulston of Tamatea Tairawhiti Ltd. The report documents substandard conditions, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, intimidation and threats, and an absence of institutional responsibility suffered by fishing crews, particularly those on-board Korean fishing vessels. Around 2000 foreign crew work on 27 foreign charter vessels inside New Zealand waters and the official Government policy supports the use of foreign crew to complement the local fishing fleet; provided that they receive the same terms and conditions as New Zealanders and are protected from exploitation.


However, the study found that crews working on New Zealand-flagged vessels earned up to 10 times more than their foreign counterparts, whose salary is paid to foreign manning agents and who work on average 112 hours per week with shifts up to 53 hours in length, with no time off or holidays during their two year contracts.


"We are slaves because normal employees have a voice, but we do not…didn't expect this when we sign the contract, but once on the boat we are trapped…we were trapped into modern slavery…in the old days, slaves were not paid and chained, now we are paid and trapped…but we are worse than slaves," one of the more than 100 crew interviewed in New Zealand and Indonesia, told the researchers.


Authors say within the New Zealand fisheries there is an institutional void pertaining to labour standards on-board foreign chartered vessels is tolerated.


"Serious physical, psychological, sexual, and wage abuse is widespread on Korean vessels in New Zealand waters, and disturbing levels of inhumane conditions and practices have become routine or institutionalised," they say.


The research alleges:


Crew forced to pay oppressive manning agent fees and provide securities: cash bonds, certificates of title for houses and motorbikes, education certificates, and birth certificates.


Muslim workers called dogs, monkeys and other derogatory names.


Substandard conditions including little or no heating, drinking water a brownish rusty colour, food supplies rationed, crew fed fish bait.


Crew often beaten for little or no reason.


Inhumane punishment such as being made to stand on deck for hours without food or water in extreme weather conditions, and being lined up and beaten with a shovel.


Sexual harassment and assault, including rape.


Fatigue causing accidents and injuries, and lack of protective clothing or safety gear.


Denied medical treatment and accidents covered up or not reported.


Intimidation and threats involving crew and their families.


Crew being forced to high-grade and dump massive volumes of fish.


The next part of the study will be released early next year.




Click here to read the publication in the UN.GIFT.HUB Resource Centre.