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Irish Ferries dispute formally raised with European Commission

28 October, 2005


Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon said she had raised the Irish Ferries issue at European level in order to 'halt the exploitation of workers and their employment conditions as well as dealing with the wider flags of convenience issue.'

Ms McDonald made her comments after the European Commission officially responded to a question from the Dublin MEP regarding the ongoing dispute over workers' rights at Irish Ferries. In a series of engagements around the issue. Ms McDonald has met with the Irish EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and the trade union organisations SIPTU and the Seaman's Association of Ireland in recent days.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"At the beginning of this month I tabled a question to the European Commission asking what measures the Commission proposes to take in relation to intra-EU passenger and ferry services operating under flags of convenience and how they plan to counter the exploitation of many workers on such services, particularly as pay and conditions are well below the minimum standards applicable in the EU.

"The European Commisson responded unsatisfactorily to my question, by stating that negotiations had previously broken down on the rights and conditions of third country nationals on ships within the EU. The Commission also responded by saying that it had no plans to ressurect such a proposal. Immediate action needs to be taken to save sea faring jobs within the EU.

"I have raised the Irish Ferries issue at European level in order to halt the exploitation of workers and their employment conditions as well as dealing with the wider flags of convenience issue. What is required now is immediate action to deal with this situation. Seafarers in Irish Ferries and elsewhere deserve to be treated justly and that means they should have the same level of protection as every other worker in this country. There is no justification for any company paying wages of €3.50 an hour.

"I will continue to raise this level at both national and EU level. Immediate action needs to be taken to save sea faring jobs within the EU, and to ensure thte protection of workers' rights." ENDS

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