Date Released: 19 May 2016
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has welcomed the extension of a scheme for undocumented fishermen. The scheme was created in response to reports of trafficking and forced labour in the fishing industry in Ireland, and was originally scheduled to close on 15th May, but has now been extended to allow further applications from undocumented migrants currently working in Irish fisheries.
MRCI spokesperson Gráinne O’Toole said “News that the scheme is to continue will be a relief to many. It gives more fishermen the chance to collect the materials they need and apply for the scheme. If we are to stamp out exploitation and forced labour, it is absolutely vital that we give workers a chance to regularise their status.”
“Unfortunately, some employers have refused to cooperate with the scheme. We are deeply concerned that some workers may have been left go by employers when they asked them to support their application – leading to an absurd situation where we have fisherman jobless, homeless and penniless in Ireland despite the huge demand for workers in the industry. The extension of the Scheme at least will afford fishermen the time to find good employers and secure their futures working in Ireland. It is imperative that fishermen are protected and not penalised for the noncompliance of some employers.
O’Toole concluded, “The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has assisted several workers to apply for the scheme, as the application process can be difficult for some, and we’re working to ensure all undocumented fishermen know about the scheme. The problem of workers being tied to one employer remains, but overall this is a very positive step towards better and safer working practices. The next step is to ensure all employers are compliant with employment law.”