Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (1212)

Mick Barry

Question:

1212. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of letters of notification that were sent in 2020 and to date in 2021 by her Department to participants in the atypical working scheme for non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet notifying them that their contract of employment has ceased and that they should furnish details of their new contract of employment under the scheme within 28 days of the issue of the letter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14265/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet was established as a cross Departmental response to address the matter of non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet. A number of Departments are involved in the scheme and it is monitored by an Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine with members from relevant Departments and State Agencies, including my own. 

The terms of the Scheme require that the contract of employment must be of a 12 month duration. Where it arises, the Immigration Service of my Department will issue to the fisher a letter of notification that it has come to the attention of my Department that the fisher’s contract of employment has ceased, and notify the fisher that he/she should furnish details of his/her new contract of employment under the Scheme within 28 days of the issue of the letter.

Only a small number of such letters have issued, as follows:

Year

No of Letters Issued

2020

11

2021

01

Total

12

This represents a very small number of the permissions granted in either of these years:

Application

New

Renewal

Total

2020

40

143

183

2021 to date

25

20

45

Total

65

163

228

The Atypical application process includes the drawing up of a contract which includes, for example, payment of wages in line with the minimum wage; that the medical needs of the employee must be provided for by the employer; and when an employment is terminated the employer must repatriate the employee to their home country. This contract, prepared by a solicitor practising in the State on behalf of the employer, is submitted in the first instance to the Central Depository administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and thereafter an application is made to the Immigration Service for an immigration permission. Each contract is certified by a solicitor as follows:

1. that the terms of the scheme are met;

2. that the conditions of employment are in accordance with the relevant legislation and that wages are not less than the National Minimum Wage – currently €10.10 per hour; and

3. that there is a statement from the vessel owner that they will enroll the crew member in a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Safety Training Scheme prior to commencement of employment.

Any abuses or otherwise of the employment conditions of any non-EEA National in the Irish fishing industry is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission, the Marine Survey Office, the Gardaí and other appropriate authorities of the State.