30 November 2006 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
BY STEPHANIE LORD
Seafarers earn €2 per hour on the Irish Sea
An International Transport Workers Federation inspector has discovered workers on a ro-ro ferry docked in Dublin, the Merchant Bravery, who were earning wages as low as €2 per hour. Some of the workers had not been paid for over four months. ITF inspector Ken Fleming said that the crew employers were engaged in a practice of "double book-keeping". This involves the hours of work regulations being abused on a daily basis and there is also a question mark over false certificates of competency. The ITF is investigating this allegation further. The vessel is operated by the Maersk subsidiary, Norfolk Line between Heysham and Dublin and is a Jamaican flagged vessel with a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian and Russian seafarers.
The ITF discovered one crew member who should have been earning around $3200 per month -- as indicated in his first contract of employment -- yet he was only earning $1984 for 365 hours work per month. This works out as €2 per hour.
Maritime Union RMT has joined with SIPTU to campaign on the issue of "social dumping" in the Irish Sea and are demanding fuller investigation by the Irish Sea and British Maritime Authorities on all ferry and ro-ro vessels trading in the Irish Sea.
The term 'social dumping' is used to describe the situation where unionised crews are replaced with super-exploited, unorganised overseas labour employed on rates often below the minimum wage and forced to work dangerously long hours.
SIPTU President Jack O'Connor called for immediate action in accordance with international law to rectify the injustice and ensure that at the very least a minimum threshold of decency is applied in the case of these seafarers.
Former Clubmab Omega employees picket premises
A picket has taken place over the last 34 weeks of company premises Clubman Omega in Lisfannon by former employees whose management have refused to pay them the terms of a redundancy package recommended by the Labour Court. The workers began industrial action on 3 April.
The company had decided to relocate its operations to Lithuania in August 2005 resulting in the loss of 67 jobs. In November of that year the Labour Court recommended that management pay the workers 1.5 weeks pay per year of service, which would have given them a total of _450 per year of service as they were earning the minimum wage of just _7.65 per hour. The management of the company have refused to pay this or discuss any alternative payment.
Donegal SIPTU Branch organiser Sean Reilly stated that the workers have received overwhelming public support and they remain "united and determined". The workers have also set up a website http://www.clubmanpicket.au and are calling on everyone who has access to the internet to log on and sign the petition and leave a message of support.