Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

13 Migrant workers Abandoned on island

By Garrett Mullan

THE LATEST unmasking of the ugly face of Irish capitalism has been revealed in north county Dublin. 13 Latvian perrywinkle pickers, three of them women, were abandoned on Colt Island a few hundred metres from the shore at Skerries.

The boss said after their day's work was complete on 5 November that his boat had broken down and that he would not be out to collect them until the following morning. No effort was made on his part to contact the Coast Guard. They had no food, water, supplies or equipment needed for an overnight stay on the island.

Operations manager of Skerries Lifeboat, Niall McGrotty, said: "The first thing that did came into our head was the Morecambe Bay tragedy.

"I was afraid that they may have tried to make it ashore. There are very strong tides between the mainland and the island. They weren't dressed for the weather to spend a night on the island. They were told they wouldn't be collected until Sunday morning.

The employer hadn't made contact with the coastguard or made alternative arrangements. They were glad when we turned up, to get ashore, and to get a bit of heat. If they'd stayed on the island they would have been in a bad way."

The employer believed to be from the Drogheda area is being questioned by the Department of the Marine and the Gardai.

Despite this scandal and those at GAMA and Irish Ferries, it has been revealed that the number of workplace inspections by the Department of Employment, have dropped by 50%. Inspections fell from 8,323 in 2002 to 5,160 in 2004. It is expected that the figure for 2005 will be just 55% of those in 2002. With widespread exploitation of Irish and non-Irish workers, it is essential that the number of labour inspectors is increased. Currently there are 54 dog inspectors nationwide, but only 31 labour inspectors.

The trade unions need to launch a major recruitment campaign to ensure that all migrant workers are organised and have protection against parasitic employers who are ripping them off and in some cases putting their lives at risk.

Other articles opposing Racism and the role of the SP in exposing Gama can be found here.


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