What We're Talking About:
The Fishing Industry's Cruelest Catch
by E. Benjamin Skinner for BloombergBusinessweek
Verité has for years explored the link between labor migration, debt-bondage and modern-day slavery. Noted journalist Ben Skinner – author of the monumental book A Crime So Monstrous – has connected these conditions to the seafood that enters the United States, and may end up on your dinner table. His story of slavery in the fishing industry reminds us of two essential facts: forced labor can be present in any industry, any business sector and any country – even New Zealand territorial waters; and tracing a product to a workplace where people are enslaved requires effort.
And yet our mandate is simple: we must look for slavery and resolve it wherever we find it. We have the knowledge and tools to do so.
The terms of the first contract, the “real” one, would later haunt him. In it, IMS spelled out terms with no rights. In addition to the agent’s commission, Yusril would surrender 30 percent of his salary, which IMS would hold unless the work was completed. He would be paid nothing for the first three months, and if the job were not finished to the fishing company’s satisfaction, Yusril would be sent home and charged more than $1,000 for the airfare. The meaning of “satisfactory” was left vague. The contract said only that Yusril would have to work whatever hours the boat operators demanded.
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