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Jeanie crew in wages claim

10th June 2009

International Transport Federation inspector Ken Fleming of SIPTU has called on the Minister of Transport, Noel Dempsey, to intervene in a dispute involving over €20,000 in unpaid wages to the crew of the Jeanie Johnston. The three masted barque is a replica of the original Jeanie Johnston built in 1847 and used to carry 2,500 Famine victims to North America.

It is currently owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, operated by Rivercruise Ireland and berthed at the North Wall in Dublin Port. It has been proposed as a replacement training ship for the Asgard II but is currently mired in a protracted dispute about arrears of pay for four crew members.

The ITF’s solicitors have written to the DDDA putting it on notice that the Federation will seek a court order to have the vessel seized and sold if necessary to secure the wages outstanding to the crew. One crew member, the chief engineer Patrick Lawlor, has secured a Rights Commissioner order in his favour for over €5,000.

“I have been trying since April 26th to secure the arrears of pay due to the crew”, Mr Fleming said today. “Unfortunately I have not received a positive response and have had no choice but the initiate legal proceedings to secure their rights.

“I am now appealing to the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, to intervene. The DDDA is a state agency and it would be ironic if a vessel built to commemorate the Famine was itself to be mired in a legal action to secure something as basic as the crew’s right to be paid their wages. It would also be embarrassing for the Government and the nation as a whole.”

In a statement to afloat.ie the DDDA said:

The Jeanie Johnston is owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and was operated by RiverCruise Ireland up until October 2008. It is currently berthed at Dublin City Moorings and we are not currently in contract with any operator. The ship has been offered by the Docklands Authority to the Department of Defence to continue its sail training programme following the sinking of Asgard II.      

The Authority is aware that some claims have been made by former crew against RiverCruise Ireland seeking outstanding payments which they claim are due to them.    

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