Old habits die hard. In the news today are two of the finalists for the 2011 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand who seem intent on getting themselves nominated again for the 2012 Roger Award.
These transnational corporate recidivists are Sajo Oyang Corporation and the Oceania Group.
Sajo Oyang is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with the foreign chartered vessels model used in New Zealand’s joint venture fishing regime. In today’s news, one of its vessels being held off the Canterbury coast by a High Court arrest warrant apparently made a run for it and then changed its mind when it realised it was heading towards a Navy vessel, and returned from whence it came.
This South Korean fishing company made it to the finalists of the 2011 Roger Award for having achieved the not inconsiderable feat of having the worst record when it comes to treatment of the poor buggers from Third World countries who have to risk their lives and health in working on these joint venture fishing boats. It was nominated for exploitation and harm of its crew members (six of whom died when one of its boats sank in NZ waters; others have walked off Oyang boats in NZ ports in protest at the appalling systematic abuse of crewmen). Oyang is the “star” of the report into abuses in the fishing industry, the report which forced the Government to open an Inquiry. For its part the Government was nominated for the Roger Award’s Accomplice Award because of its “neglect and active harm caused to the NZ maritime industry, comprising (1) the failure to regulate the NZ fishing industry to protect jobs, conditions, the wellbeing of overseas workers, the environment and New Zealand control of its resources, and (2) the open coast policy which is responsible for flag of convenience shipping, the decline of shipping standards and NZ shipping, and the failure to sign the international treaty to maximise liability for clean up costs by charterers”.
In the case of Oceania, its rest home workers throughout the country went on strike in protest at the criminally low wages that they are paid. It is New Zealand's largest rest home provider and is owned by a foreign equity fund. It made it to the 2011 Roger Award finalists because it is the perfect illustration of what has happened to this sector which used to exist to provide a service for old people no longer able to look after themselves in their own homes. Now it is a profit-driven business, with the residents the “product” and the workers are overwhelmingly female, brown and/or Third World, who are paid very low wages to do the literal shit work – while the owners of Oceania cream it.
It is great to see those workers fighting back and CAFCA declares our full support for them (particularly those in Oceania’s Christchurch resthomes. Those lowpaid workers looked after our most vulnerable old people in the chaotic aftermath of the February 2011 killer quake. The thanks they get is a pay rate just above the minimum wage). Likewise we declare our support for the grotesquely exploited and abused foreign fishermen who are unfortunate enough to work for Sajo Oyang and its ilk.
The winner/s of the 2011 Roger Award winner will be announced at a Christchurch event on April 20th. With contenders like this, the judges have a tough decision and are spoilt for choice. The full list of finalists can be read at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/2011finalists.html