Following mediation between a number of Government Departments and the International Transport Workers’ Federation on the scheme for employment of non-EEA fishers in parts of the Irish sea-fishing fleet, a settlement agreement was reached in 2019. The Appendix to the agreement contains details of the working arrangements regarding maximum hours and rest breaks for crew covered by the Atypical Worker Scheme as agreed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the Marine Survey Office of my Department (MSO), and the Department of Justice and Equality and this includes arrangements whereby the WRC refers specified issues to the MSO for follow up.
The MSO has received 28 referrals from the WRC. Two of these were in relation to information received by the WRC from An Garda Síochána, which the MSO considered in the same way as the referrals that had originated in the WRC.
There were 26 follow up inspections relating to the 28 referrals received, of which 23 were unannounced inspections. A review of the records of hours and rest being kept onboard was undertaken at each of the 26 inspections and 16 of these reviews identified deficiencies. The action taken in such cases was in accordance with the professional judgement of the attending MSO surveyor. In 3 cases, the deficiencies were rectified during the inspection and were recorded as closed out. The actions taken in the other 13 cases included “rectify before departure”, “rectify within 14 days” and “other, as specified by the surveyor” e.g. requirement for the submission of records to the MSO for further examination. The MSO has also carried out follow up inspections as appropriate to check on progress or closing out of deficiencies. The vessels which have rectified deficiencies will also be subject to further scrutiny of records etc. during the MSO’s ongoing survey and inspection programme, so as to ensure ongoing compliance. The MSO may detain vessels in cases of serious or continuous non-compliance and prosecution of offences through the courts may follow in such cases.