Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
299. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the reports of widespread abuse of workers’ rights and terms and conditions in the fishing industry; the steps he will take to deal with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30727/20]
Immediately following the publication of claims of possible exploitation of undocumented migrant workers on Irish fishing trawlers in the Guardian newspaper in November 2015, an interdepartmental Task Force on Non-EEA Workers in the Irish Fishing Industry was established by the Government to examine the specific issues identified in the newspaper report and to make recommendations on appropriate actions.
Reflecting the complexities of the issues raised the Task Force consisted of high level representatives from the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Justice and Equality; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Social Protection; Defence; the Workplace Relations Commission; the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service; the Marine Survey Office; the Health and Safety Authority; the Revenue Commissioners; the Attorney General’s Office; An Garda Síochána; BIM; the Naval Service and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.
The Report of the Government Task Force recommended the establishment of a sector-specific Atypical Worker Permission system that would provide a structured and transparent framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish commercial sea-fishing fleet.
The Scheme provided for the first time a framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish fishing fleet. The Scheme sets down minimum terms and conditions of employment applicable to non-EEA fishers which are in line with the general statutory terms and conditions applicable to workers more generally in the State. The Scheme was welcomed as a solution to the risk of exploitation and to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the Scheme.
The Atypical Working Scheme is administered by the Immigration Delivery Service of the Department of Justice and Equality. My Department’s role relates to hosting the Central Depository for applications and to the Scheme and to chairing the Oversight Committee, exclusively.
The enforcement of appropriate employment law is not a matter for my Department. Primary responsibility for this matter is shared between the Workplace Relations Commission (enforcement) and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (policy). Any abuses or otherwise of the employment conditions in the Irish fishing industry is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission, the Marine Survey Office, and other appropriate authorities of the State.