Shipping & 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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