5 Mar 2012

NZ work visas for Korean ship cancelled

10:59 pm on 5 March 2012

New Zealand's Department of Labour has cancelled all work visas for a Korean foreign charter fishing vessel over inaccurate wage keeping records.

The department has been investigating the ship Shin Ji after its crew walked off it in protest at conditions on board in June last year.

The code of practice requires crew to be paid the minimum wage plus $NZ2 for hours worked.

The fishing boat was chartered by the New Zealand company Tu'ere Fishing Limited.

The department says it has been unable to verify whether the crew of the Shin Ji had been paid their minimum requirements. It says there are also allegations of mistreatment made by several crew members.

Immigration New Zealand's fraud and compliance manager Peter Elms, who works for the department, says Tu'ere Fishing Ltd is required to keep accurate financial and wage records but it could not do this.

Mr Elms says it went into voluntary administration about the time of the allegations last year and it has proved difficult getting information from the company.

"We've not been happy with the way that we've had information provided to us by the administrator - he's failed to provide adequate information despite numerous requests.

"So we've never been able to get to the bottom of exactly what the issues were, how much they were underpaid - if they were underpaid. Suffice to say, we've got major concerns about the lack of transparency."

Last week, the New Zealand Government received a report on a ministerial inquiry into foreign charter vessels which recommended it strengthen the code of practice and the immigration approval process.