Indonesian fishermen wait for legal fight over wages

Indonesian fishermen who walked off a foreign charter fishing boat in Timaru will have a wait in Christchurch as discussions begin over allegations of excessive working hours and safety issues.

Officers from Immigration New Zealand, the police and Maritime New Zealand made an unannounced visit to the Sur Este 707 at the Port of Timaru on Monday.

Twenty one of the crew walked off the boat and eight have since returned to Indonesia while 13 are waiting in Christchurch as negotiations get underway.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigators raided the ship following information provided by a government fishery observer who noted possible issues with vessel safety, excessive hours of crew work and falsification of crew time records.

Sur Este is charted by Timaru company South East Resources. The boat is owned by South Korean company Dong Nam Company Ltd. Nelson lawyer Peter Dawson is acting for the 21 crew members and says they will press claims for wages.

He raised concerns about the ongoing welfare of crew members in Christchurch. Initial discussions would likely take a week.

Mr Dawson said the crew members were seeking the return of bond money they paid to secure employment aboard the vessel plus two months' salary held by Korean agents. The crew was struggling to find accommodation in Christchurch, he said.

The Timaru Herald