Press Release

ITF supports increased WRC role in protecting migrant fishers from exploitation

Date Released: 23 April 2019

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Government have agreed enhanced protections for fishers which will see Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspectors boarding vessels to ensure the employment rights of workers are being respected.

The measure is one of a number of improvements to the Atypical Worker permit scheme which were agreed following mediation earlier this month between the Government and the ITF.

Other improvements include the removal of the ability of boat owners to deduct the cost of the permit (€1,000) from wages; all permit documents will have to be supplied to the worker in English and their own language and boat owners will have to provide documentation on rest hours along with payslips. The agreement also specifies that Ireland will ratify EU Directive 2017-159 which sets minimum requirements around areas such as manning of vessels, working hours and rest periods.

ITF coordinator for Britain and Ireland, Ken Fleming, said: “I am very pleased at the outcome of the mediation. However, in February 2016 when the Atypical Worker scheme was introduced I expressed doubt that the industry would comply. It did not. I continue to doubt whether the industry is capable on its own to step up and move away from the scandals that have followed it over a long period.

“As before, it’s down to regulation enforcement. The major improvement which has been agreed is the extended involvement of the WRC to inspect issues that were previously only the concern of the Maritime Survey Office (MSO). WRC inspectors will look at all working and rest hour logs. If they are concerned about any possible breach the matter will then be reported to the MSO, or the Gardaí, who must take action within a short period.

He added: “The ITF will continue to work as hard as ever to protect workers’ rights in the fishing industry and ensure these new measures are utilised to the best effect for migrant fishers.”

 


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