Maritime News

ITF wins protection for migrant workers in Ireland’s fishing industry

26 April 2019

Following a longstanding campaign, the ITF has won a commitment from the Irish government to bring in new measures to protect migrant workers in the country’s fishing industry.

The ITF has raised concerns over many years about the exploitation of workers from Africa and Asia in Ireland’s fishing industry. In response to this campaign, the Irish government introduced a special work permit scheme for migrant fishers. However, unscrupulous employers were found to be undermining this scheme and further exploiting workers. The Irish police identified 26 suspected victims of modern slavery in the Irish fishing fleet in the last year. In February this year, United Nations rapporteurs issued a rebuke to Ireland warning that the permit scheme breached international human rights law.

After the ITF took the Irish state to court over the issue, the government has agreed to introduce measures to protect migrant fishers’ rights and prevent them from trafficking and modern slavery. Non-European workers will no longer be tied to individual employers, and will be free to leave a boat for other work if they experience exploitation or abusive conditions without fear of deportation.

There will also be measures to reinforce regulations on pay, hours and conditions on fishing vessels, inform migrant fishers about their rights and deal with employers who breach the work permit scheme.

Ken Fleming, ITF UK and Ireland coordinator, commented that: “This agreement is a significant step forward for the rights of migrant fishers in Ireland … We will continue to monitor things closely.” 


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