Last year, the Sunday Star-Times exposed the widespread abuse of workers on foreign-flagged fishing vessels operating in New Zealand. The crew of these vessels were treated like slaves: beaten, sexually-abused, forced to work in unsafe conditions, and (of course) underpaid by their foreign employers. The New Zealand authorities of course refused to do anything - they didn't want to interfere with the fishing industry's profits - but now the South Korean authorities are acting, and are bringing charges against the vessels' owners:
Korea's largest fishing company, the Sajo Oyang Corporation, faces charges of fraud and the physical and sexual abuse of Indonesian crew working in New Zealand waters.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Star-Times show that the Korea Coast Guard wants to press charges against the company's chief executive, two Korea-based managers and the company's manning agent for forgery of wage documents, fraudulently using and abetting the use of the documents and obstructing official duties.
Thirty-two Indonesian crew walked off the Oyang 75 and Shin Ji in Lyttelton last year claiming physical and sexual abuse by the ships' management.
The crew's bosun (manager), chief engineer, chief mate and first engineer face charges including assault, sexual assault and habitual assault.
Further charges relating to the non-payment of wages have been referred to Korea's Busan Regional Maritime Affairs and Port Office.
This is good news, but shouldn't it be New Zealand standing up for the human rights of workers doing New Zealand jobs in New Zealand waters?