Just a few weeks back, i visited a fishing vessel, as I usually do, and struck up a conversation with a few fisherman, one of which cannot be named, ( call him Chris). After they know who I am, and whom I work for, I ask, as I always do, if they have been receiving their salaries, and whether or not they were eating properly, with hesitation, they assure me all is well.
Days go by, and I notice Chris popping in and out of the mission on a daily basis, until finally I get a knock on my office door. Chris explains to me that he has only been paid 100us dollars since Dec 2016 and has been 3.8 years at sea, with the promise that if he worked for 4 years, he would receive a bonus.
After Cassiem ( ITF) makes contact with the owners and agents of the vessel, on our next meeting Chris and the rest of the crew are extremely thankful for the box of cigarettes they have each received, no salaries, limited food, pathetic pay, some are 5 years at sea and they thank me profusely for the box of cigarettes they think I manged to get them.
A day later, after asking Chris if they had enough food, Chris leans forward to tell me they need some bread, but must please not tell the owners, as the last time they complained the owners in Taiwan got very angry and made them sign their names on a paper. Rev Ashley and the mission has agreed to help fee these guys, providing food for 24 fisherman is no easy task though.
So, this is how our year begins, as it does every year, fisherman, young boys, being abused and exploited for profit and greed.