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Mary Lou McDonald formally to raise Irish Ferries issue in European Parliament

14 November, 2005


Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald will this evening raise the Irish Ferries dispute in the chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Ms McDonald said that the EU had a 'responsibility and a duty of care to protect the rights of all workers, including seafarers who work European waters'.

Ms McDonald made her speech on the same day that the Labour Court recommended that Irish Ferries should honour its current agreements with the trade unions.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"This evening's speech to the European Parliament is an opportunity to inform my fellow MEPs of the plans by the Irish Ferries company to displace over five hundred employees with low paid slave labour, provided by agency workers, many from outside the EU.

"The European Parliament has a responsibility and a duty of care to protect the rights of all workers, including seafarers who work European waters. Sinn Féin will continue to prioritise the health, safety and conditions of workers throughout the EU." ENDS

Ms McDonald can be contacted for interview on (00 44 7712044282)

Full Text of Speech:

I want to raise Irish Ferries shipping company plans to displace over five hundred employees with low paid slave labour, provided by agency workers, many from outside the EU.

This practice of 'social dumping' is wholly unacceptable. The European Union has a responsibility and a duty of care to protect the rights of all workers, including seafarers who work European waters. The wage rates and secondary benefits afforded to seafarers must be in line with those applicable in the relevant member states.

Irish Ferries must honour their agreements with workers and trade unions in the company. There is no case for breaking those agreements.

We need a European Ferries Directive to ensure that Irish Ferries, and others, cannot ride roughshod over the rights of workers, present and future.

This Parliament must actively oppose the 'race to the bottom' approach to employment and working conditions which is rife within the EU.

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