Sanford says not involved in deals to cut crew pay

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:46 09/04/2014

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Auckland-based Sanford has denied any involvement with a manning agent said to be trying to persuade underpaid charter crewmen in Indonesia to settle for less money.

Fairfax Media reported yesterday that about 480 men working on South Korean fishing boats chartered to New Zealand companies had been underpaid by about $25 million.

Among the claims included in papers filed with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is $10m sought from Dongwon Fishing, which allegedly shortchanged 200 Indonesian men on the Sanford chartered fishing boats Dongwon 519, 530 and 701 and the Juham Industries vessel Pacinui.

Dongwon is a 50-50 partner with Sanford in a fish-processing operation.

Sources in Indonesia revealed that the Dongwon manning agent in Jakarta, Indah Megah Sari (IMS), was trying to cut deals that would be significantly below the New Zealand minimum wage.

A Sanford spokesperson said today that the company did not use manning agents and to say it was involved was incorrect.

"Nor is Sanford involved in any way in any 'Deals sought to underpay fishing crews'," she said in relation to a headline on yesterday's story.

"It is up to the ERA to determine the validity of the claims before it.

"Sanford fully supports the ERA process to determine any settlement between the crew and the vessel owners and is providing any information it can to assist this process."

IMS has called on men to sign "peace agreements" and, in an advertisement in a local newspaper, says Dongwon 701, 530 and 519 crews who worked between June 2009 and May 2012 "can take the rest of salaries caused [by] the miscounting by Dongwon ... "

They are required to dump their legal representatives in New Zealand.

They will be paid less than they would get in New Zealand, but the Pacinui men would be guaranteed jobs on boats in New Zealand.

Some of the "peace agreements" show a crewman from one Dongwon ship settling for $19,700 when he was claiming in New Zealand $86,527 for his work.

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- Fairfax Media

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