Government officials wanted to deny border exemption for foreign seafarers


Senior government officials wanted to prevent hundreds of foreign seafarers from working in New Zealand because they were concerned about the industry’s progress in improving working conditions and wages.

Officials recommended denying a border exemption for sailors during a July briefing to several ministers, who were deciding which groups would get managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) places.

The briefing said the decision of the group of senior officials was “based on limited evidence that the industry has advanced the plan to improve wages and conditions to a satisfactory level.”

The seafood industry has rebuffed these claims.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: 450 foreign sailors must pass through MIQ before joining New Zealand fishing boats
* Government seafood industry survey focuses on migrants
* The border exemption for foreign fishermen protected $ 380 million in exports
* Covid-19: Foreign fishing crews are not worth the risk – expert

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Jeremy Helson said he was unwilling to comment directly on the advice of officials “because we don’t know the reasons why they did.”

<a class=Government ministers rescinded the authorities’ advice and approved managed isolation and quarantine zones for 450 foreign fishermen. (File photo)” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

FASTER BRADEN / Tips

Government ministers rescinded the authorities’ advice and approved managed isolation and quarantine zones for 450 foreign fishermen. (File photo)

But he said all workers were paid according to the law and their working conditions met legislative requirements.

Helson said the boats the foreign sailors have worked on generate $ 725 million each year and support around 450 jobs in New Zealand.

Independent Fisheries chief executive Mark Allison, whose company employs foreign seafarers, said conditions on their boats were exemplary and pay rates were in line with appropriate regulatory guidelines.

“I have had officials on our ships, I have had politicians on our ships, and I refute any comments suggesting that these ships are not as good, if not better, than any other New Zealand ship. “, did he declare.

Documents show government ministers ultimately ignored advice from officials and approved a border exemption for 450 foreign sailors to work on New Zealand-flagged deep-sea fishing vessels.

Deep-sea fishing boats, including the Independent Fisheries vessel Independent in Lyttelton, right, were tied up for months last year awaiting new crew.

ALDEN WILLIAMS / Tips

Deep-sea fishing boats, including Independent Fisheries’ vessel Independent in Lyttelton, right, were grounded for months last year awaiting new crew.

The ministers did not follow the advice of the officials because of the economic, humanitarian and health and safety risks associated with the denial of the request.

The 450 sailors have passed through MIQ in the past three months.

The offshore fishing industry has been trying to reduce its dependence on foreign workers since mid-2020, when it drew up a workforce transition plan as part of the government’s agreement to grant an exemption at the border.

This plan describes how the industry will attract more Kiwis to deep sea fishing.

Seafood New Zealand has since extended the plan’s focus to the broader seafood sector, said a government spokesperson representing Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker wants fishing companies to continue working to attract Kiwis to the industry.

Monique Ford / Stuff

Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker wants fishing companies to continue working to attract Kiwis to the industry.

But he added that progress in implementing the plan had “slowed” due to the increased scope, as well as the announcement of a ministerial inquiry into the seafood industry and its dependence on it. with regard to migrant labor.

Parker wants fishing companies to continue to attract Kiwis, the government spokesman said.

“A key part of this is ensuring that pay and terms and conditions fairly reflect the work required.

“The conditions of the high seas fishing roles are inherently demanding, with long periods at sea being necessary. “

Helson, of Seafood New Zealand, said the industry is committed to attracting, recruiting and retaining Kiwis, but there are no quick and easy fixes.

“Working at sea comes with a set of environmental conditions that cannot be changed,” he said.

“Motion sickness, strict drug and alcohol policies, and living on a ship for an extended period of time are some of the factors that make things difficult for some. “

Allison of Independent Fisheries said he continues to work with the government on the workforce transition plan.

He said part of it was to dispel myths and untruths about conditions on board ships.

“A lot of this stuff is propaganda constructed by people that isn’t quite true.”


Source link

Previous Business News | Stock market and stock market news | Financial news
Next Changes needed to local government law, says PPP chief Sindh