IRELAND - A new investigation by the Guardian newspaper has documented labour abuse and illegal migrant workers on board Irish prawn and whitefish fishing trawlers.
The year-long investigation by the Guardian found that illegal migrant workers from Asia and Africa were being used as cheap labour on prawn and whitefish boats operating out of Irish ports.
Many of the migrant fishermen reported labour abuses such as, extreme sleep deprivation, no proper days of rest, no freedom to leave the vessel unless given permission to go on land by their skipper and being paid less than half the Irish minimum wage that would apply if they were legally employed.
Many of the migrants claim they were deceived and appear to have been trafficked as many are being flown to Northern Ireland where they are then transported by road into Ireland so as to avoid immigration control.
The report looks in particular at the story of Demie Omol, a migrant worker from the Philippines, who agreed to a job on an Irish fishing vessel in order to help provide for his family.
Mr Omol was recruited through the Diamond-H Marine Services agency, based in the Filipino capital Manila, and was promised £654 a month, plus overtime and holidays, for working 48 hours a week on the Labardie Fisher, an Irish vessel fishing for species such as cod, monkfish, haddock and plaice.
When Mr Omol arrived in Northern Ireland instaed of being transferred straight to the boat in Belfast, he was met by a member of the agency and an owner of the Labardie Fisher who then transported him by road into Ireland where he then joined the boat in the village of Crosshaven.
During his time on the boat, Mr Omol explained that he had no holidays or days of rest, he often only received one meal a day and was not paid extra for any overtime he did.
Mr Omol's situation only came to light following being taken ill which required him to be hospitalized. To read more on Mr Omol's ordeal, see the full Guardian report.
Irish Government Sets Up Taskforce
Following the release of the report, the Irish Government has decided to establish an inter-departmental taskforce to examine the labour abuse issues.
The taskforce will include representatives from the Departments of Justice, Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, Transport, Tourism and Sport and Agriculture, Food and Marine, as well as the Attorney General’s office, relevant agencies and An Garda Síochána.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, will chair the taskforce. The first meeting will be held Thursday 5 November to formulate a co-ordinated and effective cross Government approach to the matter.
You can view the full Guardian report by clicking here.