Following recent mediation between a number of Government Departments and the International Transport Workers’ Federation on the scheme for employment of non-EEA fishers (outside the European Economic area) in parts of the Irish sea fishing fleet, a settlement agreement has now been reached and signed by all parties. This mediation was in the context of proceedings taken by the International Transport Workers’ Federation against the relevant Government Departments in relation to the Scheme and a recent High Court judgment on injunctive relief, dated 7 December 2018. The High Court today (30 April 2019) struck out the case.
The relevant Government Departments involved in the Scheme are the Department of Justice and Equality; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; and the Workplace Relations Commission.
The main terms of the agreement are as follows:
- Every intended participant under the Scheme is to receive their contract of employment in their native language, as well as English. The contract will include clear wording regarding the fisher’s entitlements to pay, working-hours and rest periods. The letter of approval is also to be in the fisher’s native language, as well as English, as appropriate.
- A link to a webpage explaining the fisher’s rights as an employee and where the fisher can make complaints regarding any violation of these rights will be provided to participants in the Scheme in their letter of approval.
- As has previously been the case, the costs associated with applications under the Atypical Workers Scheme are not recoupable from the fisher’s wages.
- No employment permission is granted to any non-EEA nationals to work in the State without a contract with a specific employer. Non-EEA fishers retain the right to transfer employment within the Scheme; any such transfer of employment can occur without the existing or previous employer’s consent.
- Where the Department of Justice & Equality becomes aware that a fisher has left their employment, for any reason, before the end of their twelve month contract, a letter will issue to the non-EEA fisher requesting that they provide details of their new contract of employment under the Scheme to the Department of Justice & Equality within 28 days.
- EU Directive 2017/159 will be transposed into Irish law by the 15th of November, regulating maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest, and manning requirements aboard commercial fishing vessels.
- The relevant bodies, i.e. the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the Marine Survey Office (MSO), and the Department of Justice and Equality, will liaise with each other on the enforcement of S.I. 709 of 2003 (relating to the hours of work and rest on board fishing vessels).
- The Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will meet on a two-monthly basis for the first six months, starting in May, and quarterly thereafter, to monitor the Scheme and ensure that it is operating as intended.