A number of trade unions staged a protest at Dublin Port this afternoon warning that Irish Ferries is refusing to pay its workers the national minimum wage.
SIPTU said the company is Irish in name only – and warned that its ships fly foreign flags in order to avoid paying Irish wages.
The union said Irish Ferries hires its employees from less well-paid countries through offshore agencies in order to circumvent Irish labour law.
Irish Ferries has insisted that it is fully compliant with the law – and said its vessels have been registered outside of Ireland since 2006.
ðŸ“¢ Protest today in Dublin Port
"Workers are sending out a message to all those behind exploitation on our seas. We will stand together to demand quality jobs for all maritime workers & safe services for the public." #FairTransport
— SIPTU (@SIPTU) February 8, 2019
SIPTU organiser Jerry Brennan said the company flies foreign flags so it can take advantage of cheap labour in other countries.
“If they did fly the Irish flag, they would have to pay national Irish minimum wage,” he said.
“So they circumvent this, they navigate around this, by using manning agencies located in Cyprus.
“They fly the Cypriot flag on the ship and they get away with not paying national minimum wage.”
He said the company is refusing to sit down with the union for talks.
“We have sought meetings with them and they haven’t had the courtesy to respond to our communications,” he said.
— RMT (@RMTunion) February 8, 2019
He said the practice is “not normal for the industry” noting that UK unions – including RMT and Nautilus who supported this afternoon’s strike – ensure that all StenaLine employees are paid the UK national minimum wage.
In a statement Irish Ferries said: “As is common practice in international maritime shipping and cruising, Irish Ferries uses the services of expert providers to crew its ships, as it has done since 2006.
“All activities are conducted in strict compliance with the various applicable regulations.”