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Protests over exploitation by ferry operators on Ireland-UK routes

6 June 2006

Angry trade unionists have staged a protest in Wales against attempts by ferry operators to cut costs by exploiting foreign workers.

The demonstration, involving ITF-affiliated UK and Irish unions, took place on 25 May outside the Wales Trades Union Congress (WTUC) annual conference in Llandudno. It aimed to highlight the continuing exploitation of employees from Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.

The protestors were demanding that Stena Ferries withdraw its decision to sack British seafarers and replace them with low cost Eastern European crews. They were also outlining the plight of foreign workers on board Irish Ferries vessels operating between Ireland and Pembroke or Holyhead, who it is alleged were still being denied basic union rights. A number of foreign workers had been removed by police from vessels after complaining about conditions.

WTUC conference delegates backed the protestors, passing resolutions on social dumping and supporting calls for UK legislation to provide seafarers on ferries running between the UK and other EU member states with the same protection as shore-based workers.

"We are not opposed to workers from anywhere being employed on the Irish Sea, provided they are paid the rate for the job and that - at the very least - they benefit from the minimum statutory employment protection afforded to employees of the Republic of Ireland and the UK," said Tommy Molloy,of Numast (the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers). "We are calling on the Welsh Assembly and the UK government to support and argue for the introduction of a European ferries directive, which will regulate working conditions on ferry services between member states."

The Irish government pledged to support a European ferries directive, following a national day of action across Ireland in support of Irish Ferry workers, involving some 100,000 protestors, in December last year.




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ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk