migrant fisherman employment rights waiver

Fishermen, migrant and EU, working on Irish boats have been warned not to sign any waivers regarding employment rights

A migrant fisherman working onboard an Irish fishing vessel was approached by his employer to sign away his employment rights in an illegal waiver. 

This is according to Michael O’Brien, the leader of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) who produced a document on Twitter yesterday, Thursday 30 March 2023, that shows a typed letter that the migrant fisherman was being forced to sign. 

The letter said that the fisherman would “irrevocably and unconditionally resign, without compensation or any claim for compensation”. 

The document followed continued that the fisherman signed the letter, he would no longer have a claim to compensation for “costs, expenses, fees or otherwise (to include wages or expenses, annual leave, bonus, notice or any employment benefits) against the Company and or any of its officers …”. 

It also stated that if signed the fisherman would forgo any of his rights for claims of unfair dismissal, breach of contract and any rights he would have gained under European Law. 

The letter, which was called a Deed of Waiver also gives a list of Acts relating to employment law in Ireland that the fisherman was told he would have to surrender in his resignation. 

Speaking to The Fishing Daily today, Michael O’Brien expressed his concerns over the intention of the letter and the treatment of the fisherman. 

A copy of the letter as seen on Twitter

“I haven’t seen the likes of it before,” said O’Brien. “The legal position is, as I understand it, is that no worker can sign away their rights, be they Irish or migrant. 

“I question the motivation being the vessel owner/employer in trying to get the fisherman to sign a letter like that. To me it indicates a desire on the vessel owners’ part to protect themselves from a WRC case, or paying out a paying out a share of the compensation to the crew if the vessel is being decommissioned.” 

O’Brien said that it was important that no person involved in the industry should sign anything without seeking proper legal advice from an independent source. He said: 

“I’d be very concerned if letters like this are circulating out there. I’ve made an effort to push it out there amongst our networks of non-European fishers in the Irish fleet not to sign any letters.

“If any fishermen have concerns, they can contact me on +353872400331.” 

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