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Sinn Féin raises Irish Ferries exploitative practices with Minister

28 September, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment, Arthur Morgan T.D. this afternoon challenged the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micháel Martin to ensure that no worker on board ferries operating out of Irish ports is subjected to exploitative working condition. He also asked the Minister to seek agreement at EU level regarding the introduction of a Ferries Directive that would crack down on such practices.

Deputy Morgan asked the Minister "if his Department has concerns regarding the current working conditions of employees on board the Irish Ferries ship the 'Normandy' and the fact that the company now intends to extend these employment conditions, which fall below minimum standards applicable in this state, to its ships operating on the Dublin-Holyhead and Rosslare-Pembroke routes."

Speaking in the Dáil deputy Morgan said, "What is the Minister going to do to actually address this situation to ensure that no worker on board ferries operating out of Irish ports is subjected to exploitative working conditions as proposed by Irish Ferries?

"Minister would you agree that what is needed is a European Ferries Directive to deal with intra- EU Passenger and ferry services operating under flags of convenience and subjecting workers to pay and conditions below minimum standards throughout the EU? Has the Minister or his Department raised this issue with the EU Commission?"

Minister of state with responsibility for Labour Affairs Tony Killeen T.D. said he was "quiet taken with the idea of dealing with this at European Level" and was "equally as angry as the Deputy in relation to this issue" but went on to claim that there was little the Government could do.

Deputy Morgan responded by saying, "I am asking the Minister if he accepts that what is being proposed here is the creation of exploitative working condition for workers on board ferries operating out of Irish ports? I have to ask the Minister what is Social Partnership worth if we are going to allow ferry companies operating under flags of convenience to treat their workers in his way?

"Rhetoric about respecting workers rights, whether it be in ferries or elsewhere, is not worth a damn if you are willing to stand idly by and allow Irish Ferries to exploit workers in this way." ENDS

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