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Ireland: Migrant fishing workers gain new immigration rights; move comes after union took Govt. to court for allegedly facilitating modern slavery

Migrants working on Irish fishing trawlers are to be given new immigration rights to protect them from trafficking and modern slavery. Under the deal agreed between the Irish government and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), non-EEA fishing workers will no longer be tied to employers and will be able to leave a boat to find other work without fear of deportation.

The move comes after the ITF took the Irish government to court in Dublin for facilitating modern slavery with its permit scheme for migrant fishing workers last year. The permit scheme was introduced in response to a Guardian investigation uncovering persistent allegations of trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers in 2015, however tied workers to individual employersIn February 2019, four United Nations human rights experts had also criticised this scheme for leaving workers vulnerable to abuse.

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Article
13 June 2019

Ireland: Migrant fishing workers fear reforms to strengthen their rights will fail, reports Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Ruairi Casey, Thompson Reuters Foundation

"'We hide': Abused migrants say Irish fishing reforms will fail", 12 June 2019

Ireland agreed to reform the Atypical Workers Scheme (AWS) in April, after the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) union took it to the High Court in 2018, claiming the AWS enabled "slave-like conditions" on boats.

But three Egyptian fishermen who said they were abused under the AWS said the reforms would likely fail as regulations were poorly enforced, sanctions were too weak to deter rule-breaking and boat owners were often tipped off about inspections...

Under the new deal, fishermen can change employers without jeopardising their immigration status and claim compensation for mistreatment, while enforcement and monitoring are stepped up...

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Article
22 April 2019

Non-EEA migrants on Irish trawlers gain new immigration rights

Author: Felicity Lawrence and Ella McSweeney, The Guardian

African and Asian migrants working on Irish fishing trawlers are to be given new immigration rights to protect them from trafficking and modern slavery.

Non-EEA fishing workers will no longer be tied to employers and will be able to leave a boat to find other work without fear of deportation under a new immigration agreement between the Irish government and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)...

The deal, concluded to stave off litigation, comes after the ITF took the unprecedented step of taking the Irish government to the high court in Dublin for facilitating modern slavery with its permit scheme for fishing workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) last year...

The permit scheme in question was introduced in response to a Guardian investigation that uncovered persistent allegations of trafficking and severe exploitation of migrant workers in the Irish fleet in 2015... However, the scheme tied workers to individual employers, leaving many vulnerable to abusive conditions and in fear of deportation if they complained or wanted to leave...

The Garda National Immigration Bureau’s anti-trafficking unit has formally identified 26 men as suspected victims of modern slavery in the Irish fishing fleet in the last year...

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Article
20 February 2019

Ireland's work permit scheme for migrant workers in fishing industry breaches human rights, say UN rapporteurs

Author: Sonia Elk, Thomson Reuters Foundation

"Irish migrant fisher workers' scheme breaches human rights, say UN rapporteurs", 18 Feb 2019

Ireland's work permit scheme for migrant workers in the fishing industry breaches the human rights of migrants and may be failing to prevent modern slavery, four United Nations human rights experts said...

The system, introduced in 2016, leaves workers tied to a single employer meaning they are vulnerable to abuse, the special rapporteurs on migrants, racism, slavery and trafficking said in a joint letter to the Irish government...

"We are concerned that a number of migrant workers in the fishing industry may be victims of trafficking in persons for the purpose of forced labour or labour exploitation."

The Department of Justice and Equality said it took any allegation of exploitation very seriously and would examine the concerns raised in the letter.

The Aypical Working Scheme (AWS) was "a multi-faceted approach to tackling exploitation in the fishing industry," a spokesman for the department said...

The AWS is intended to give migrant workers from outside Europe a legal route to work on Irish fishing vessels and ensure they get proper contracts and earn at least the minimum wage.

Critics of the scheme say it has not stopped abuse...

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