• April 13, 2019

The Celtic League has written to the Irish government asking what steps it’s taken to respond to concerns voiced by the United Nations earlier this year about the exploitation of non EEA migrant fishermen on Irish fishing vessels. We have also asked if the Irish government intends to ratify ILO Convention C188 the ‘Work in Fishing Convention’.

Many states globally have now ratified the Convention (C188) which applies important safeguards. The United Kingdom, also an area of concern vis a vis the exploitation of migrant workers in the fishing industry, has indicated it will ratify the Convention next year. It’s not clear (from the ILO Convention ratifications web page) at this stage if the Manx government has sought its extension to the Isle of Man. However once it is applied in the UK Celtic League would expect its provisions to be extended speedily.

France – also a country of interest to the League because of the large fishing industry based in Brittany – is a signatory to the Convention.

The correspondence to Minister Flanagan is set out below:

“Minister Charlie Flanagan TD
Department of Justice and Equality
51 St Stephens Green
Dublin 2

Dear Minister Flanagan

I write with reference to the concerns expressed to the Irish government earlier this year by the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights dealing with migrants, racism, discrimination, slavery and human trafficking about the application of the AWS to migrant fishermen from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

The criticism of the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) identified not only abuse of working hours and pay but also some examples of physical and verbal abuse of seafarers who are effectively ‘tied workers’.

What steps has your Department taken to respond to the UN concerns?

Additionally what steps are the Irish government taking to ratify International Labour Organisation C188 ‘Work in Fishing Convention 2007”?

I understand that the Irish government’s initial response was to aver that there was a ‘multifaceted approach to tackling exploitation in the fishing industry’ and that ‘separately, An Garda Síochána deals with potential cases of trafficking or exploitation including from within the fishing industry’.

Can your Department highlight any actions taken or prosecutions pending as a result of the ‘multi-faceted approach’ and ‘separate’ action by An Garda Síochána?

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary
Celtic League

cc An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar”

Link: ILO C188


Bernard Moffatt
Celtic League

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