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Call for mass mobilisation in support of Irish Ferries workers

29 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Employment spokesperson Arthur Morgan has called for a mass mobilisation for the day of action in support of Irish Ferries workers on 9th December. Speaking during a Dáil debate on the issue this evening Deputy Morgan said, “The Irish Ferries issue is symptomatic of wider problems in the state regarding the treatment of workers and the onward march of the neo liberal agenda.”   

Deputy Morgan said, “The Irish Ferries issue is symptomatic of wider problems in the state regarding the treatment of workers and the onward march of the neo liberal agenda.    Irish Ferries has effectively declared war on workers rights and conditions gained over many years.   If Irish ferries is allowed to proceed in this way the floodgates will be opened.  

“Some Government Ministers are saying this is an issue particular to Irish Ferries.  It is not.  Displacement of workers and their replacement with migrant workers who are subjected to low rates of pay and exploitative working conditions is a feature of how the labour force in this state now operates.  It is time to say enough is enough.   Those parties who do not want to see this agenda progress need to stand together with the trade union movement and oppose what is now underway. 

“It is not acceptable for profitable companies such as Irish Ferries to break employment agreements reached with unions and force workers into a position where they have little choice but to accept the redundancy or drastically reduced pay and employment conditions.

“And it should be noted that Irish Ferries is a profitable company.  The Labour Court rejected claims by Irish Ferries management that that the future viability of the company is dependent on proceeding with its proposals for replacing current staff with low paid agency workers from Eastern Europe and elsewhere.  Further evidence that the company is not cash strapped comes from the fact that Irish Ferries boss Eamonn Rothwell gets paid in one hour what it will take the new agency workers two and a half weeks to earn.

“The actions of the company last week in putting on board the ships storm-troopers from a company specialising in global terrorism to enforce a new regime on Irish workers is a disgrace.  To deploy such overtly military personnel, who may well have been armed, is a disgrace.  The treatment of agency workers currently on board the Normandy and on other ships in the future is a disgrace.  However, the biggest disgrace is the inaction of this Government.  What does the Taoiseach say?  He says he can do nothing.  He throws up his hands as if he were an unemployed person walking up O'Connell Street in the afternoon.  Somebody should tap him on the shoulder and say: ‘Bertie, you are Taoiseach of this bloody State.  You are the guy in charge.  How can you do nothing about it?’  Of course, we know the answer.  The Taoiseach does not have the will to do anything about it.

“I hope that there will be a mass mobilisation in support of the day of action on the 9th December.  That people come out and make it clear to the government that inaction is not good enough – that a wink and nod attitude to the management to go ahead is unacceptable.” ENDS

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