ken fleming ghana fishers
Ken Fleming with Joshua, James, Noel and John who were saved from an Irish fishing vessel

ITF takes Irish government to court over abuse of fishers

The International Transport Workers’ Federation has begun legal proceedings against the Irish government over its botched attempt to regulate the employment of non-European workers in the fishing industry.

A copy of the letter from the ITF, which can be found here, states: ‘as of today the ITF has referred no fewer than 12 potential trafficking cases to Gardai, and of those, seven of the men have now been positively identified as suspected victims of the trafficking of human beings. 

'The continued operation of the Atypical Work Scheme manifestly represents a real and imminent danger to ... human rights.'

The Irish government has 21 days to respond positively, otherwise the ITF will take its case to the high court.

The Atypical Work Scheme was introduced as a way to register non-European workers in the fishing industry and ensure their rights, however it has failed to stop routine human rights abuses. 

The ITF co-ordinator for the UK and Ireland, Ken Fleming said: “Today was a milestone in this campaign in Ireland. Over the last two years, we've submitted evidence to every part of the Irish government, the EU and the ILO. But the abuse continues.

"We've been left with no alternative but to move into the law courts. This scheme has been used to abuse and traffic people, and it must be stopped."

The ITF maritime coordinator, Jacqueline Smith, commented: “The ITF is completely committed to this campaign, and seeing it through to the end. Wherever fishers are the victims of unscrupulous owners aided by negligent governments, the ITF will use whatever means necessary to fight for justice and defend their human rights.”

For years the ITF has been supporting fishers forced to endure inhuman working conditions in Ireland. See the related stories below for more background and this video.

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