State protection sought for seafarers' rights


Ship-owners are avoiding strict employment laws in their home country by sailing under a flag from another country, it was claimed today.

The Irish representative of the International Transport Workers Federation, Mr Tony Ayton, said the practice of flying a ‘flag of convenience’ (FOC) and today called on the Irish Government to help end it.

He said a commitment for extra resources for a marine survey last week by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Frank Fahey, was misleading.

Mr Ayton said there was currently little Ireland could do to aid the welfare of many seafarers.

"The Minister spoke about his Government’s active participation in international discussions to improve the rights of seafarers, such as the current ones on working hours. What he does not say however, is that laws and regulations will do nothing for the seafarers who need them most," he said.

"Many ship-owners, including those from the countries who are participating in talks about seafarers’ welfare, register their ships in countries which either totally disregard the regulations and/or have not the resources to enforce them," he said.

Mr Ayton said that many of the worst abuses which seafarers suffer are outside the remit of the Marine Department. "The only way to tackle the problems of seafarers created by the FOC system, is to have all ships registered in, and only in, the country of beneficial ownership," said Mr Ayton.

International Transport Workers Federation