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Mary Lou McDonald raises exploitation of Irish Ferries workers with EU Commissioner McCreevy

25 October, 2005


Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has this evening met with EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Charlie McCreevy in Strasbourg. At the meeting the Sinn Féin MEP called on Mr McCreevy to lend his support to the reintroduction of a European Ferries Directive which would deal with ships operating in European
waters under flags of convenience and for minimum labour standards to be set.

Speaking after the meeting Ms McDonald said:

"Today's meeting was sought by Sinn Féin, in a bid to raise the ongoing issue of Irish Ferries, where over 500 workers are about to be displaced from their jobs and replaced with low cost third country labour.

"As an Irish Commissioner, it is incumbent upon Mr McCreevy to lend his support to the reintroduction of a European Ferries Directive. We are calling for a directive which would deal with ships operating in European waters under flags of convenience and for minimum labour standards to be set.

"Behind all of this, is a concern regarding workers rights and conditions. It is entirely unacceptable that staff onboard some of these ferries are working for far less than the minimum wage, and are working 12 hours per
day, 7 days a week. Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that this issue is highlighted at both a national and European level. As well as today's meeting with Mr McCreevy, we have formally raised the issue with the European Commission, who are due to respond in writing.  This follows a meeting last week between a Sinn Féin delegation and SIPTU and meetings I previously held with Seaman's Union of Ireland representatives.

"We will also be seeking a follow up meeting with Commissioner McCreevy in the near future on this issue, and are also seeking a meeting with the Commissioner for Transport." ENDS


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