Migrant workers caught on hook

Overseas seafarers face harm and exploitation

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“I am a deck hand with other foreign nationals on a British fishing boat and we work 12 hours before getting a four-hour rest, then have to work another 12 hours and so on,” said Kofi from Ghana, who is earning around £3 an hour for a working week exceeding 100 hours.

Kofi’s situation appears to be common among highly skilled migrant fishing workers who are being exploited by the fishing industry employing them using seafarers’ temporary transit visas.

The majority of seafarers affected are from the Philippines, Ghana and Indonesia, who do not have an automatic right to work in the UK.

“The job was initially fine,” said Kofi. “I like working with different nationalities. We must work together as a team because it is dangerous but I do not have the required safety certificate. There is a course I should be sent on to get it. We’ve had no safety or fire drill. What would we do in an emergency?”

Kofi began working on fishing and trolley vessels in 2006 before attending Ghana Maritime University where he gained a certificate in international law for seafarers.

Married and with children, he came to the UK earlier this year when a friend set up a one-year job for him with a fishing boat owner.

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