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UN criticism of Irish fishers’ scheme ‘a vindication’

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The ITF HQ’s in London

In an unprecedented move, four United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs have signed a joint letter damning the Irish government’s work permit scheme for non-European workers in the fishing industry.

The letter comes from the special rapporteurs for the human rights of migrants, on contemporary forms of racism, on contemporary forms of slavery and on trafficking in persons. There is a copy here and attached to this release.

It says that the Atypical Work Scheme (AWS) “is not in line with international law and standards related to trafficking in persons and the human rights of migrants.”

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has always said that the AWS for non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals would only exacerbate the problem of systemic exploitation of foreign workers in the Irish fishing industry.

ITF co-ordinator 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. The UN joins the US State Department and the Council of Europe in this deafening chorus of criticism of the AWS. And yet still the Irish government won’t listen, so workers continue to suffer and Ireland’s global reputation is dragged through the mud.

“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? What more will it take for them to do the right thing? What are they waiting for?”

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