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Redundancies at Irish Ferries is an attempt to extend exploitative working conditions - Dwyer

21 October, 2005

"The Irish Ferries offer of redundancies to 543 workers represents another disgraceful attempt by the company to deviate from accepted standards in terms of pay and conditions."

Councillor Dwyer was speaking following a very successful meeting today (Fri.) with SIPTU President, Jack O'Connor at Liberty Hall, Dublin. He was accompanied by Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament, Mary Lou McDonald and T.D. Arthur Morgan.

Cllr. Dwyer said: "The working conditions and pay on board Irish Ferries ships have been in the media on several occasions in recent months. Conditions on board the Normandy, which now flies under a flag of convenience, deteriorated sharply when it underwent the process now proposed on the Wexford-Wales route.

.The International Transport Federation has claimed crew members on the ship were paid an average of •3.50 an hour, less than half the Irish minimum wage, and worked an 84-hour week. This is evidently the kind of treatment that workers could expect on the route between Wexford and Wales. It should not be acceptable for a company to cut costs by attacking the working conditions of its employees.

Our T.D.s in Leinster House have tabled a motion calling for a European Ferries Directive and it will again be raised in the European Parliament by Mary Lou McDonald MEP this coming week. I am challenging the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mícheál Martin T.D. to make clear to Irish Ferries that no exploitation of workers will be tolerated.

"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 such as Rosslare? 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?

It is not good enough for the Government to continually repeat their rhetoric about supporting workers rights while at the same time standing idly by and allowing Irish Ferries to exploit workers in this way."

"This dispute is a reflection of the wider corporate greed agenda which is rife within the European Union at present. It is only a few months since a Filipino woman Salvacion Orge, won substantial damages from Irish Ferries after it became known that she was earning 1 euro per hour on the Rosslare route."

"In the course of the meeting with SIPTU President, Jack O'Connor we also raised the issue of exploitative conditions being operated by Arklow Shipping whose seventy ships are staffed by non-nationals who are paid just eight hundred and fifty dollars per month with up to one hundred hours overtime per month."

"I intend raising this issue at Wexford County Council and I particularly believe that raising this issue at European level would help halt such practices in the future. Our focus in the time ahead must be on the protection of the rights of the employee." ENDS.

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