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Fishing workers in Ireland who are from outside the EEA will no longer be tied to employers under the new agreement. (Photo: cover The Guardian)

Migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry to get protection against slavery

Click on the flag for more information about Republic of Ireland REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has secured an agreement with the Irish government that will see the introduction of measures to protect migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry from trafficking and modern slavery.

Johnny Hansen, ITF Fisheries’ Section Chair welcomed the settlement: “The agreement with the Irish government is welcome progress that has real potential to strengthen the protection of migrant workers’ rights in the Irish fishing industry.”

The agreement ends a long-running legal case after the ITF took the Irish state to court over problems with the country’s Atypical Working Scheme for non-EEA fishers that aided human trafficking and failed to stop human rights abuses on Irish fishing boats.

Johnny Hansen, ITF Fisheries’ Section Chair (Photo: Twitter)

Ken Fleming, ITF UK and Ireland coordinator said today: “I’m happy that the Irish state has finally accepted that there is a problem, this agreement is a significant step forward for the rights of migrant fishers in Ireland.

“It shouldn’t have been this hard to get to this stage as fishers continue to work up to 20 hours a day for eight hours pay, while the rules designed to protect them have gone unenforced. We will continue to monitor things closely,” said Fleming.

Under the new immigration agreement non-European workers will no longer be tied to individual employers. Fishers will now have the freedom to leave a boat if they experience exploitation or abusive conditions and find other work without fear of deportation.

The new deal will also see the Irish government introduce measures to:

  • reinforce regulations on pay, hours of work, hours of rest and minimum safe manning on fishing vessels;
  • deal appropriately with employers who breach the terms of the Atypical Workers Scheme;
  • improved cooperation between state departments inspecting fishing vessels;
  • prevent boat owners from deducting permit fees from fishers’ wages; and
  • provide information about employment rights to fishers in their native languages.

“The ITF has negotiated this settlement in good faith, but the government can rest assured that we will continue to monitor the implementation of the measures in the agreement to ensure that it is having a real, positive effect on the lives of the most vulnerable fishers,” said Hansen.

“We also want to send a clear message to other countries; our work continues beyond this case. Ireland is not the only country in which migrant fishers have been horribly exploited and we will continue to fight for the rights of fishers around the world wherever we see abuses,” concluded Hansen.

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