Why migrant fisherman are paid so poorly
Often migrant workers report to us that they are receiving 250us dollars a month, which is usually around 40% percent less than what they are legally supposed to be getting. Taiwanese law, stipulates that the fisherman irrespective of their rank should receive a minimum wage of 450us dollars a month.
The problem lies herein; an owner of a vessel or fleet of vessels will employ an agency from Singapore who is responsible for obtaining crew for the owners. The agency will then make contact with smaller agencies in the Philippines, Indonesia etc. The crew will then sign a contract with these local agencies in their respective countries. These contracts are often highly illegal, and often come from illegal recruiting agencies. When the crew flies to Singapore they embark on their tenure, they sign another contract, often in a language other than their own. This contract will stipulate the correct wage and is legal (this is however kept with the owner). The contract that the crew receives on board is the one they initially received in their home countries. The one the owner receives, is the on signed in Singapore. Resulting in two differ and conflicting contracts.
The owner pays the wage of 450us p/m, the agency in Singapore takes their cut, and the local agency in their respective home countries receives a cut as well. The result?
50us on board allowance, 100us allotment, and 100us dollars in ‘’savings’’ once they have completed their contract. Resulting in a wage of 250us p/m (if that). Despite this, the first six months are also deducted as agency fees (salaries, flights etc), which the crew do not receive a salary. Despite the poor salaries due to these many agencies, the crew end up working on vessels they were not contracted to work on.
When approached, the owner blames the agency in their local countries.