Social justice award given to ITF activist

This year's Spirit of Mother Jones award – which recognises those who fight for social justice – has been given to the ITF co-ordinator for the UK and Ireland, Ken Fleming.

The award is recognition of Ken's work over many years exposing labour abuses in the maritime industry, and most recently in fishing.

James Nolan, from the award's committee, said: “Ken Fleming has been willing to challenge the official silence on the blatant exploitation of many seafarers and migrant fishers in Ireland and the UK.

"He is a fearless, passionate and determined defender of the workers who have been denied their rights and continually exposes and challenges the system which treats many of them as virtual slaves.”

Last month Ken gave evidence to the Irish parliamentary committee that is investigating exploitation of migrant fishers. He criticised ‘repeated failures’ by Irish government agencies to enforce a permit scheme that was supposed to deal with the problems.

On receiving the award, Ken paid tribute to the team who work with him, including his fellow ITF inspectors, his fellow activist Padraigh Yeates and his colleagues at the ITF in London. He said the award will inspire everyone to keep fighting for justice.

You can see the full ceremony here:

The award is named after the Cork born US trade union leader Mary Harris Jones, known as Mother Jones, who was once called the most dangerous woman in America.

Ken is only the fifth person to be given the award. The previous recipients are Dave Hopper from the Durham Miners Association, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts from the Hillsborough Family Support group, human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and campaigner for homeless people Fr Peter McVerry.

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