The exploitation of undocumented workers in the Irish finish industry was the subject of research carried out by The Migrant Rights Centre which found that two thirds of migrant fishermen work more than 100 hours a week, and receive an average pay of €2.82 an hour, and often furthermore suffer physical and verbal abuse.
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has worked with the migrant fishermen employed on Irish boats to advocate and lobby on their behalf. This work has resulted in the publication of the ‘Report on the situation of non-EEA crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet under the Atypical Worker Permission Scheme’ by the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
The Committee has made it very clear that the abuse and exploitation can go on no more.
The Committee made a number of recommendations to address this ongoing exploitation in the Irish fishing industry. One of the recommendations is that all undocumented non-EEA nationals in the Irish finishing industry should have their status regularised within six months.
Eden McGinley, MCRI Director, stated “We welcome this report and its recommendations many of which match our own assessment of the issue. In particular we welcome the recommendation that a worker not be tied to one employer – it is essential that workers be able to leave exploitative employers.”
Eden McGinley also stated that “The committee also recommended the vital provision of extra resources to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to continue inspections, highlighting the need for access to interpreters, and suggested that one Minister and Government department be given overall responsibility in this area. MRCI calls on Minister Heather Humphreys and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to take up this role.”
At Berkeley Solicitors we have acted for a number of clients who have experienced such exploitation working in the fishing industry. We would also call on the government to implement these important changes as recommended by the Committee to protect this very vulnerable and exploited group. We commend the MCRI for the good work they have done on behalf of the undocumented fishermen.