Fishermen 'cheated'

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013
indonesian fishermen
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE

WAITING GAME: Crew members of fishing boat Pacinui are staying in Timaru after jumping ship this week, claiming they have been mistreated.

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Fourteen Indonesian fishermen holed up in a Timaru motel say they have been mistreated at sea.

The 14 crew from the chartered fishing boat Pacinui jumped ship on Wednesday.

It followed a walk-off by 21 Sur Este 707 crew members in Timaru last week, who are now in Christchurch.

Both groups say they have been intimidated and cheated by their bosses.

Speaking to The Herald through an interpreter at the Anchor Motel yesterday, the Pacinui crew members said they were not happy with their working hours, pay and treatment.

"That includes intimidation from officers". If they complained, the officers threatened to send them home and their timesheets were also altered, they said.

The Pacinui is registered in South Korea and chartered by Sanford Ltd. Sur Este 707 is owned by South Korean company Dong Nam Company Ltd and chartered by Timaru company South East Resources.

"Most of the Korean boats use the same system about wages and conditions; all Korean boats are treating them unfairly," the crew said.

"The Indonesian Government should also look after their people; it starts back at home.

"Korean shipping, Indonesia and New Zealand: everybody has a part to play in it because these guys need a job.

"Everyone concerned needs to work together to take responsibility and not take advantage of the crew."

When the claims were put to Sanford managing director Eric Barratt, he said that was not the information the company had been receiving.

"We would not condone intimidation."

He said there was some concern about the matter. "Perhaps some unrealistic expectations are being provided; we don't know.

"We are making sure the crew have got comfortable accommodation and food."

Sanford was working with the ship owners and Immigration New Zealand to find a resolution, he said.

Immigration New Zealand was advised by Sanford of the dispute.

A spokesperson said the 14 crew members were staying in New Zealand on valid temporary work visas while the remaining 21 crew had sailed on the boat when it left Timaru on Wednesday evening.

"Immigration New Zealand is making preliminary inquiries, including talking to Sanford to assess the full extent of the issues at hand.

"A decision will then be made on what further action is warranted, including whether a full investigation is appropriate."

Meanwhile, Nelson lawyer Peter Dawson, who is acting for the 21 crew members who left the Sur Este 707, was due to arrive in Timaru last night for talks with the Pacinui crew.

He said Sur Este 707 crew members were maintaining their position of seeking the return of bond money they paid to secure employment, plus two months' salary held by Korean agents.

The Timaru crew had not been given their wage calculations and were waiting on Sanford, he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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