The ITF has welcomed a letter from United Nations special rapporteurs to the Irish government that criticises its work permit scheme for non-European workers in the fishing industry. The ITF has long campaigned against the scheme for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, saying that it leads to “modern-day slavery” on board Irish trawlers.
Since the permits were introduced, the ITF has found dozens of cases of migrant fishers paid well below the minimum wage rate and made to work dangerously long hours, as well as suffering industrial injury. The workers are often afraid to leave exploitative employers for fear of arrest and deportation. In 2018, the ITF referred 12 migrant fishers on Irish boats to Irish police as suspected victims of trafficking.
The UN letter to the Irish government backs these concerns, saying that the scheme is: “not in line with international law and standards related to trafficking in persons and the human rights of migrants”.
The ITF coordinator for the UK and Ireland Ken Fleming commented: “This is another vindication of what the ITF’s been saying since this doomed scheme was brought in … We said this scheme would lead to modern day slavery, it has. We said it would lead to human trafficking, it has. When will the Irish government do the right thing and end this scheme, and work with us on a fair system that works?”