National

Stop slavery at sea: Seamen’s
association

The Indonesian Seafarers’ Association (KPI) condemned the alleged human trafficking and slavery practices reportedly associated with the recently sunken Korean ship in New Zealand waters, saying authorities should take measures to stop slavery of Indonesian seafarers on foreign fishing vessels.

“Saiyo Oyang Corporation, owner of F/V Oyang-70, which recently capsized in New Zealand waters, should be held responsible for the alleged human trafficking and slavery of underpaid Indonesian seafarers,” KPI Chairman Hanafi Rustandi told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Six crew members, including five Indonesian seamen, died after the Korean flagged fishing vessel sank in New Zealand waters on Aug. 18, 2011. Thirty-one Indonesian survivors, who received assistance from the Anglican Church of New Zealand, reported their employer and the ship’s owner to the International Transport Workers’ Association (ITF) on labor abuses committed during their employment on the fishing boat. With the help of the ITF and the Anglican Church’s advocate agency, the Indonesian survivors were provided facilities to help them return home.

Indra Priatna, director of seaman affairs at the Transportation Ministry, said the government had received the report about the abuse on the ill-fated fishing ship and was working with the police to investigate the case.

“The abuse is similar to human trafficking and a deception of workers that has to be handled by the police in coordination with the Foreign Minsitry and Indonesian embassies abroad,” he said.

He said the government could not bring the ship owner to the international court because the recruitment of the seamen and their employment and the labor contract between the workers and their employers was not approved by the relevant authorities.

Twenty Indonesian seafarers, including the dead victims, had been employed by the boat for a gross payment of US$180 per month over the past eight months. They had been recruited from a human trafficking syndicate in Jakarta. According to the ILO standard, the minimum wage for seafarers on fishing ships is $550 per month with rights to two weeks off every month.

So far, more than 100 Indonesian seafarers have been detained in New Zealand for illegal fishing in its waters and several others have been arrested after their ships were stranded in that country. New Zealand authorities have required all foreign fishing ships operating in their territory to comply with international standards, including the ILO remuneration system.

Hanafi said his association has received many similar reports and complaints on labor abuses from
Indonesian seafarers working on Korean and Taiwanese fishing boats. “In addition to abusing their workers, many Korean and Taiwanese fishing ships have fished in Indonesian waters, especially in the country’s eastern regions, without permits from Indonesian authorities.”

Following the incident, New Zealand authorities threatened not to issue working visas for Indonesian seafarers without Seafarers’ Identity Documents (SID), including passports, seaman’s books and professional certificates, and unless the recruitment process and training programs are repaired.

The KPI has identified three labor recruiting agencies that have not collected labor agreements with the association and have recruited and placed numerous seafarers with past violations of official procedure. The three agencies were identified as PT OS (Oriza Sativa), PT NMI (Nurindo Mandiri International) and PT PKM (Panca Karsa Mandiri).

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