The International Transport Workers Federation Co-Ordinator for Ireland and Britain has written to Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the plight of several hundred undocumented fishers in the wake of Brexit.
In the letter Mt Fleming points out that, ‘The Taoiseach, Mr Michéal Martin, has acknowledged the post-Brexit trade agreement will have a “significant negative effect” on the fishing industry.
‘As the organisation representing 20 million transport workers internationally, including fishers, we wish to express our grave concern at the plight of this group, the vast majority of them undocumented migrants, who form the main workforce on Irish fishing vessels. We say this with certainty based on experience of monitoring the industry for many years.
‘We know that there are permits for 149 fishers under the Atypical Work Permit Scheme. (Based on information received from the minister’s office in a PQ of November 12th, 2020.)
‘Unfortunately. This grossly underestimates the actual number of migrant employees in the sector by a factor of at least five and the vast majority of fishers fall into the undocumented category.
‘All of these fishers, from countries such as Egypt, The Philippines and Indonesia, are supporting two to three generations of their families at home, who are totally dependent on them. Any decision to tie up boats will lock these workers out of existing supports.
‘Your office needs to hear our concerns in relation to the plight of these workers, both historically and in the context of the potential impact of any decisions that might be made as a consequence of the effects of Brexit.
‘We ask therefore, that you meet with the International Transport Workers Federation, so that you can make an informed decision and ensure that the necessary protections are in place for all fishers, whether they are documented or not. Their inclusion in the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments would form part of our discussions. We believe that this interim payment should be included as part of the overall scheme to provide supports for vessels tied up as a result of the new trade agreement.’
Sea News, December 30