21 June 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Foreign vessel detained in Irish waters

It has emerged this week that yet another foreign registered vessel has been arrested in Irish waters this week amid the identification of health and safety breaches and serious underpayment of the ships’ crew.
The Lillian, registered in Belize, was found to be leaking seawater which was only discovered after an Irish customer found a consignment of steel he had ordered was badly corroded.
Ken Fleming of the International Transport Federation said, “This is another example of Ireland’s economy being subsidised by the Third World work practices. It is only a matter of time before they spread ashore if we do not live up to our obligations in a sector that is vital to an island economy.”
Fleming continued, “It is a matter of time before we have a major tragedy on these floating sweatshops. When the crews are non-EU nationals the risk of protecting them becomes all the harder.”
The ITF had found that the crew were only receiving half of the industry rates for their wages.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights Deputy Arthur Morgan has condemned the Irish government’s lack of action on the issue and called upon them to intervene in the case.
“The activities concerning pay and work practices, the cynical exploitation of workers and health and safety concerns on this ship has led the International Transport Federation to correctly describe the vessel as a ‘floating sweatshop’. However, what makes this matter even worse is that this incident is just one in a substantial list of sub-standard shipping incidents on Irish waters. This cannot be allowed to continue”, Morgan said.
“I am now calling on the government to live up to its responsibilities and ensure that the workers aboard these vessels are protected and not forced into the current neglectful situation whereby the workers’ human rights are disregarded completely just because they are seafarers and not working on land. Seafarers, EU citizens or otherwise, should be entitled to the equal employment rights”, said the Louth TD.

Aer Lingus to deal with strikers ‘severely’

Management at Aer Lingus have said that they will deal with workers who took part in a one-hour work stoppage this week “severely” and will take disciplinary action aswell. August 1 has also been named as the deadline for implementation of full cost cutting proposals in a letter from Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion to SIPTU and IMPACT. The work stoppage that took place has been reported as unofficial with SIPTU saying its officials had nothing to do with it and any changes will only be implemented by agreement.

Possible industrial action for teachers

The hopes for a resolution to the Norths’ longest running pay dispute are diminishing slowly after NIPSA called for its members to reject proposals put to them. The dispute started 12 years ago involving teaching assistants who are owed millions in wage back payments and who have been waiting over 10 years for job evaluations to be carried out. The five Education and Library Boards involved put proposals to the teaching staff, however Alison Miller of NIPSA said, “In addition to recommending rejection of the boards’ proposals, NIPSA will be consulting members urgently on industrial action when schools reopen after the summer.”

HSE breach social partnership agreement

A Labour Court ruling this week has found that the Health Services Executive (West) was in breach of both social partnership agreements Sustaining Progress and Towards 2016 when it employed 70 agency staff on an ongoing basis in clerical and administrative posts.
The case, taken by Impact sought to have agency staff given direct employee status.
Impact official Denis Rohan said, “The employment of agency staff in this instance was both outside the terms of Partnership and impractical as it costs more than employing permanent HSE staff. Agency fees are subject to VAT charged by the Agency at 21% and these additional costs are picked up by the tax payer.”


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