LABOUR Minister Jone Usamate yesterday confirmed his ministry is looking into the case of the Fijian fisherman, Malakai Cerekidaveta, who claims he was cast adrift in a rubber tube by crew members of the Chinese fishing vessel Zhong Yang #28 in open waters in Tahiti after falling ill on high seas.
Mr Usamate said any issue related to occupational health and safety and labour laws would be addressed by his ministry and they were looking into the matter.
Mr Cerekidaveta, 24, had lodged a report with the Ministry of Labour claiming for workmen's compensation.
He claims he was placed in the rubber tube on the instructions of the captain of the fishing vessel after his brother Maikeli Bai, also a crew member, had asked the captain to arrange for his transfer back home.
Mr Cerekidaveta also claimed he was drifting in open waters for over one and a half hours before he was picked up by the transfer vessel that was arranged by the captain of the Zhong Yang #28.
However, the vessel's local agent, Tian Yi Shipping Agencies, yesterday refuted claims made by Mr Cerekidaveta that he was placed in a rubber tube and cast adrift while waiting for the transfer vessel Rong Da Yang #18.
It stated Mr Cerekidaveta reached the Suva Port on May 1, and soon after he visited their office accompanied by his mother and complained about the food that was served to him as well as his sleeping area in the Rong Da Yang #18.
Tian Yi Shipping Agencies director Fang Yuan said in the statement: "We explained to them (Cerekidaveta and his mother) that he is lucky to come home alive, he needed to come home on time on another fishing vessel that was on its way to Fiji."
Mr Yuan said Mr Cerekidaveta had complained about having to sleep on the floor of the transfer vessel.
To that, he responded: "Since he is coming as a passenger, there is no room for him; he just has to share rooms with other colleagues."
The company also claimed Mr Cerekidaveta was suffering from tuberculosis. The statement confirmed Mr Cerekidaveta was paid his full wages as well as additional wages.