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New Zealand cancels visas for Korean fishing boat crew after pay probe

(Xinhua)

16:59, March 05, 2012

WELLINGTON, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Monday announced it had canceled all work visas for crew for a Korean fishing boat, claiming the New Zealand firm that chartered the vessel failed to prove the crew were properly paid.

The Department of Labor said it began investigating conditions on the Shin Ji after its crew walked off in protest at conditions on board last June.

A statement from the department said it had found that "major non-compliance with the Code of Practice on Foreign Fishing Crew and the Approval in Principle (AIP) to employ foreign crew" by the New Zealand charterers of the ship.

The Code of Practice required payment of the minimum wage plus 2 NZ dollars (1.65 U.S. dollars) per hour for actual work hours for at least 42 hours per week over the course of the engagement.

New Zealand firms chartering foreign fishing boats were required to keep accurate records and make them available to the department on request, but "insufficient documents were provided to make a full financial assessment on crew remuneration," said the statement.

As a result, the department was unable to verify whether the crew of the Shin Ji had been paid their minimum wages or whether AIP and Code of Practice conditions were met.

It also said that allegations of mistreatment made by several crew members presented a prima facie case that the provisions of the Code of Practice in relation to their welfare were not met.

However, investigators failed to reach a conclusion on the allegations as the New Zealand charter party administrator, Tu'ere Fishing, had failed to respond to them.

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