Shipbuilding News - 14 September 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily
Scottish Government urged to
abolish fishing fleet 'slave labour'
Parliament asked to lead the way after reports of abuses in industry
The ITF and a British affiliate are demanding an end to “slave labour”
on board fishing vessels registered in the European Union following
several reports of abuses.
The ITF and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
are calling on the Scottish parliament to lead the way in abolishing
conditions that are tantamount to slave labour and to urge the
European Commission’s Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime
Affairs to do the same.
It has been claimed that examples of seafarers suffering abuses
contain elements of “forced or compulsory labour”. Chief amongst these
are refusals by shipowners to repatriate seafarers, often abandoning
them in a foreign port, imposing excessively onerous working hours
without any entitlement to overtime pay and withholding wages.
Recent abuses include those endured by six Indonesian fishers on board
the St Kitts-flagged Enxembre; they are reported to have received
wages totalling just 241 euros (US$334) per month over 10 months,
amounting to 0.29 euros (US$0.40) per hour, for an average 20-hour
day. The seafarers joined the formerly British-registered vessel,
before it was sold and reflagged in July. In addition, two Indonesian
seafarers are alleged to have died in February on board the
British-flagged Bergur in the port of Marin, Spain, after they were
instructed to enter and clean a fish cargo tank that had not been
properly ventilated to ensure it was gas free.
ITF Seafarers’ Section Secretary Jon Whitlow commented: “’Modern day
slavery’ is being carried out in European waters on European-flagged
vessels. We want to see the EU stamp out forced or compulsory labour
practices on these types of vessel in line with United Nations and
International Labour Organization principles.”
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