32 Indonesian fishermen previously working aboard the Korean fishing vessel Oyang 75 are currently ashore in Christchurch. These workers are seeking redress for unpaid wages and other violations of their rights. Government policy mandates that the same terms and conditions be given to workers on foreign charter vessels in New Zealand waters as to local citizens, but most members of the Indonesian crew are recieving annual incomes of between $6,700 and $11,600, well below the minimum wage.
The crew recently used what little money they have to appeal their looming deportation. Not currently working and not eligible for welfare in New Zealand the workers are reliant on donations of food and money. Workers Party Christchurch branch organiser Byron Clark and branch secretary Kelly Pope met with the crew on Saturday (Aug. 13) and delivered 20kg of rice donated from the Christchurch Workers Party branch and a bag of vegetables donated by the Okeover community garden.
“These young men- and I was surprised by how young they all are- really demonstrate the way migrant labour is exploited in New Zealand” said Clark. “These sailors suffered beatings, overwork, sexual harassment and inadequate pay while working in this country’s economic zone, and now the state wants to deport them before those grievances have been addressed”
The Workers Party is planning further solidarity work with the Indonesian crew. The Canterbury Indonesian Society is collecting donations for food and other expenses incurred by the crew, such as accommodation and the school fees of their children in Indonesia. they can be made to the account 12 3147 0278609 00 with the reference ‘Fishing Crew’.