Work stoppage by sea fisheries officers to cause disruption at harbours

Work stoppage by sea fisheries officers to cause disruption at harbours

Castletownbere, West Cork is one of six harbours where Sea Fisheries Protection officers undertake inspections of landings and monitor certifications.

Staff with the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) are planning a 24-hour work stoppage from Wednesday night with further strike action to follow.

Barring last-minute efforts to resolve issues, the stoppage is expected to cause disruption in designated fishing harbours around the coast.

Lack of consultation with staff over the implementation of a new strategy and organisational changes are among the key reasons cited for the industrial action.

The SFPA monitors and enforces sea fisheries and seafood safety legislation, and works with the Naval Service on inspections of fishing vessels under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

The Fórsa trade union’s marine branch represents approximately 110 members of the SFPA.

They undertake inspections of landings and monitor certifications at six sea fishery harbours - Killybegs, Co Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl, Co Galway, An Daingean (Dingle), Co Kerry, Castletownbere, Co Cork, Dunmore East, Co Waterford and Howth, Co Dublin.

Notice served

The union served notice last week of 24-hour work stoppage by all Fórsa members from midnight Wednesday, January 19 to midnight Thursday, January 20.

This may be followed by a 48-hour work stoppage by all Fórsa members from midnight Tuesday, January 25 to midnight Thursday, January 27 unless there is a resolution.

The union has indicated the action could be avoided if the SFPA agrees to binding arbitration by the Labour Court.

Industrial action had originally been due to take place in March 2021, but this was suspended when invitations were issued to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

However, after failure to resolve issues at several WRC conciliation meetings, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court which convened a hearing in June 2021.

The Labour Court said it could only assist in the context of binding arbitration, and adjourned its hearing for both sides to consider this.

When the hearing was reconvened last July, the SFPA is understood to have said it would need approval from the Departmental of Agriculture, Food and Marine in advance of agreeing to be bound by court recommendations.

Working conditions

Fórsa has described this as “procedural gymnastics”, and has accused SFPA management of continuing to “unilaterally alter our members’ core working conditions and agreements”.

In a statement, SFPA management said it had been notified of strike action, and said that the Sea-Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee, comprising representatives of Ireland’s marine community including industry, had also been informed.

"The SFPA has requested Forsa to confirm that minimum cover will be provided on these days, as is required under the code of practice on disputes procedures, to help minimise disruption to industry and seafood trade,” it said.

The organisation would be “making best efforts to minimise the impact on industry from this industrial action, but some disruption of SFPA services may be unavoidable”, it added.

“The SFPA is keen to secure as early a resolution to matters as possible and is disappointed that industrial action is being taken at this time,” it said.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.