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Labour to make fishers work without pay

Posted on 28 May 2005
The Labour Government's decision to take fishing employers to the Employment Relations Authority over their crew retainer payments qualifies as a classic "lunacy sighting", ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks said today. 
“For generations fishing crew have taken a share of the ship's profit, through catch related bonuses. That is how crew want to work, because the returns can be much higher than normal wages. That is how the employers want to work, because it gives crew an interest in success and it shares the risk of bad luck voyages. As adults, both sides have felt free to contract on the basis that suits them both.
“Naturally the crew want some cash flow during periods ashore or at sea before the catch is caught. So permanent crew are paid an hourly or weekly "retainer", effectively as an advance on the eventual share of the catch,” Mr Franks said.
“Now Labour's nannying minimum wage law could put a stop to it. Employers have been told that the weekly retainer, when spread over the hours at sea before the catch starts, is less than the minimum wage. 
“They have been given the choice. Stop paying anything at all or increase the retainer to the minimum hourly rate. If it is increased, it increases the employer’s risk that an unsuccessful catch could mean no profit. Accordingly crew profit shares will be reduced to reflect that risk.
“The more simple solution is to pay nothing until the fish are caught.
"This is a classic Labour lunacy sighting, as my colleague Deborah Coddington calls them.  Nanny law hurting the people it is supposed to help. The solution is simple. Respect adult freedoms to contract on whatever basis they consider best suits them," Mr Franks said.
Stephen Franks MP           
Phone:            04 470 6636  /  027 492 1983
Fax:                 04 473 3532
Michelle Brooker, Press Secretary
Phone:            04 470 6644  /  021 995 601