Union action secures release of fishing crew abandoned by tuna giant Citra Mina
After nearly six months in prison, forty-three fishermen abandoned by the Philippines' tuna company Citra Mina when their vessel was seized by the Indonesian government are returning home. The news was announced at a Manila press conference February 20 jointly organized by the IUF and the national center SENTRO, whose membership includes the union of Citra Mina workers.
Their ship, on an expedition financed by Citra Mina, was seized off the Indonesian cost on August 26 last year and the entire crew detained on Ternate Island. Their plight only surfaced when friends and family sought to locate them and union members at Citra Mina sought help. SENTRO and the IUF launched a campaign to free them which included urging the Philippines government to intervene with the Indonesian authorities to secure their release.
Citra Mina, whose profits rely on workers like those they abandoned, refused to take responsibility for the arrested crew members. "This demonstrates a pattern of abuse of workers' human rights throughout the Citra Mina supply chain, from fishermen to fish processing workers", said IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary Hidayat Greenfield. Rights abuses by Citra Mina, including the illegal termination of 237 workers who formed a legally registered union in 2013, will be the subject of hearings in the Philippines House of Representatives scheduled to begin on March 18. Congressman Waldon Bello, one of the sponsors of the hearings, also spoke at the press conference.
Crew members preparing to go home, with new clothes & their IUF - SENTRO solidarity certificates that guarantees full support to workers in need returning home and in securing wage arrears and compensation.
The successful release of the abandoned workers, who risked indefinite detention, was undertaken within the framework of the IUF's joint 'Catcher to Counter' initiative with the International Transport Workers' Federation. The initiative is working to defend rights and raise standards for all workers throughout the seafood industry.