15 September 2005 Edition

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900 Seafaring jobs under threat unless Government acts

Outsourcing is also the source of ongoing difficulties in the state's seafaring industry. A report prepared by the Irish Maritime Development Office at the request of the government and reported in the Irish Times warns that if the Government fails to intervene to stop the rate of outsourcing, 900 jobs could be lost in the next three to five years.

As reported previously in An Phoblacht ferry companies are registering their vessels in other countries in order to avoid complying with Irish employment law by sailing the ships under so-called 'flags of convenience'.

An outsourcing dispute on Irish Ferries last year led to a strike by SIPTU members but following the re-registering of the Normandy in the Bahamas, the workers are now provided by an agency and according to the International Transport Workers' Federation, being paid an average of €3.50 an hour for an 84-hour week.

The report is believed to recommend state funding for the sector, as long demanded by SIPTU and proven to reverse the trend towards outsourcing in other countries. Irish Ferries main competitor, Brittany Ferries, is already subsidised by French local and regional government. State funding could be provided through providing financial support for the training of workers or a PAYE refund scheme allowing ship owners to claim back a proportion of the income tax paid by workers.

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