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Fishing company to pay $122,252 for breaches in New Zealand waters

A Japanese fishing company must pay $122,252 for breaching employment law while in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), following a Labour Inspectorate investigation.

Ikeda Suisan Company Limited was penalised $40,000 by the Employment Relations Authority, having already paid arrears of $82,252 to the 16 Indonesians employed on board the Hoshin Maru 77.

“The Labour Inspectorate has zero tolerance for any employers who fail to meet the clear standards set out in New Zealand employment law while fishing in our EEZ,” says Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden.

“The Inspectorate takes these breaches very seriously as these employees were in a vulnerable position, with it being unlikely they would’ve been aware of their rights and entitlements.”

The Hoshin Maru 77 spent 50 days in New Zealand’s EEZ between 30 April and 23 June 2015, during which time they were visited by a Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) observer.

The MPI observer saw the hours they had recorded the crew as working were significantly longer than what was being recorded by the six Japanese officers on board, concerns which they passed on to the Labour Inspectorate.

An investigation was launched by the Labour Inspectorate which found that during the 50 days the Hoshin Maru 77 was in New Zealand waters, 5,200 of the workers hours went unrecorded.

“These are clear breaches of the employer’s obligation to keep accurate time and wage records, and pay minimum wage for every hour worked,” says Mr Lumsden.

“What this meant in practice was that on average, these 16 Indonesian employees were only being paid for half the hours they actually worked.

“While we are pleased this employer has since paid back the arrears to the workers, the exploitative nature of these breaches is disappointing.”

It was observed that while the 16 Indonesian employees did not receive their entitlements, these same breaches did not extend to the six Japanese officers on board.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, to call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.