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Coveney Publishes Report of the Government Task Force on Non EEA Workers in Irish Fishing Industry

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. has today published the report of the Government Task Force on Non-EEA Workers in Irish Fishing Industry. The Task Force was set up just over a month ago by Government following reports of alleged abuses of migrant workers on board Irish fishing vessels. The high level Task Force was chaired by Minister Coveney, and also involved Minister Ged Nash, Minister of State for Business and Employment and senior officials from relevant Government Departments and Agencies. It received presentations and submissions from a number of relevant stakeholders.

The Task Force recommended a new sector specific Atypical Worker Permission system which will enable employers in specific parts of the Irish Fishing fleet, under a structured and transparent framework, to source and employ workers from non-EEA countries. The scheme developed provides that employees will be guaranteed, at a minimum, the national minimum wage and statutory terms and conditions in accordance with national law, which will be underpinned by the requirement for employers to provide a legally binding contract of employment. 

Speaking after briefing Cabinet colleagues on the main contents of the scheme, Minister Coveney stated “These new arrangements will provide a clear pathway for the employment of non-EEA workers in parts of the Irish fishing fleet while ensuring that such workers cannot be exploited. The Task Force strongly benefited from the input of the Migrant Rights Centre and the International Transport Workers Federation which outlined the experiences of non EEA workers and outlined measures that would give protection to these workers.”

The Minister also stated, “I am also greatly encouraged by the engagement of Fishing Industry representative organisations with the work of the Task Force. The Task Force evaluated the information provided and developed a scheme that will support structured employment of crew on fishing vessels and give guarantees on conditions of work to these employees. I hope to have the new arrangements, which will provide for up to 500 non-EEA workers to work legally in Ireland’s Fishing Industry, in place very early in the New Year.”

Minister Ged Nash added, “We now have a scheme which I believe will address the problem of illegal migrant workers in the Irish fishing fleet and also the potential for abuse of these workers. What is key now is the enforcement and inspection element and I am chairing a group to agree a Memorandum of Understanding to provide for effective enforcement across all relevant State agencies.  Extensive progress is being made on this plan, which I expect to finalise shortly, where our agencies will coordinate, cooperate and share information.”

The main recommendations of the Task Force’s report are:-

  • The establishment of a new system of atypical worker permission specific to the fishing sector for recruitment of non-EEA workers. The scheme will provide that during the first 3 months after its commencement, permissions will be limited to those non-EEA workers already operating in Ireland on fishing vessels.
  • Employers (who must be licensed vessel owners) are to be responsible for ensuring that a valid contract of employment, certified by a Solicitor and drafted in accordance with National and EU employment rights legislation, is in place for all workers.   Employees will be guaranteed, as a minimum, the national minimum wage, will be repatriated at the conclusion of a contract where no new contract is in place and will be provided with adequate health care coverage for the duration of the contract.
  • A pre-clearance system to be put in place, including the establishment of a depository of contracts which will monitor overall numbers (to be capped at a maximum of 500).
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be put in place before the commencement of the scheme by the relevant State enforcement bodies to provide a rigorous and effective inspection system

The Taskforce Report is available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine website at: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/publications/2015/TaskForceReport141215.pdf  Further details of the scheme will be published in early in the New Year.

View this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 227/2015 (pdf 388Kb) 

Date Released: 14 December 2015