Labor companies reject Vietnamese sailors' claim of ill-treatment on Taiwanese boat

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Labor agencies which sent four Vietnamese sailors to work on a Taiwanese fishing boat rejected the men's complaint that they had been ill-treated, forcing them to jump off the vessel near Tahiti.


On Wednesday Le Dinh Anh, one of the four , told Thanh Nien he was still very tired after a long journey home and eight months of hard work at sea.


Anh, 29, and nine other Vietnamese sailors boarded the Taiwanese-owned trawler Hsieh Ta on December 21, 2012.


The crew also included seven Indonesians, three Filipinos, and two Myanmarese, he said.


Some of the men's poor fishing skills and the language barrier made the Taiwanese captain unhappy with them.


"We were punched on the face and boxed on the ears many times by him and two foremen.


"All of us put up with being ill-treated and tried to work hard."


The sailors were forced to work 18 hours a day and frequently beaten up.


"There was this guy named Thanh from the central province of Quang Binh who was beaten until he vomited blood.


"He was a mechanic but he begged to move to the deck to fish.


"The guy who replaced him, Hoang Van Hau from Nghe An Province, could not stand the beating either."


On August 2 the 10 Vietnamese discussed jumping ship.


Six days later, while the boat met up with another Taiwanese trawler 800 meters off Papeete Port, four of them jumped off and swam ashore.


The six others could not do so since they were busy working.


The four Anh, Hau, Nguyen Van Hung, and Tran Van Dung swam for around two hours until they were rescued by local police in a tug boat.


But Nguyen Huu Phong, deputy director of TTLC Company, which sent Anh and Hau to work on the vessel, refused to believe Anh.


Speaking to Thanh Nien, he denied the beating allegations and asked: "If they were ill-treated, why did the others not flee?


"The owner of the boat has confirmed to us that the remaining sailors want to stay back. None of them want to return home.


"There was no such abuse as described by the Vietnamese sailors."


Anh and Hau had jumped off the boat because they wanted a less hard job, he said.


"We want full and objective information from both sides.


"If the sailors are right, we will protect their rights. If not, the boat owner will hold us responsible and penalize us for breaking the contract, in which case the sailors will have to pay the fines."


Two other companies which sent Hung and Dung to work on the boat made the same claims.


All four sailors have returned home.


The Department of Overseas Labor Management is investigating.

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