Stop Blackmailing Migrant Workers Into Slavery

Target: Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Goal: Reform employment system that allegedly enables abuse and exploitation of migrant workers on fishing boats.

Several years ago, the Irish fishing industry faced a scandal when it was accused of enslaving human beings on its fishing boats. The specific charges involved the exploitation of migrant workers from Africa and Asia and compelled a reform meant to restore the dignity and rights of workers. Now, critics are alleging this effort has done the opposite, in fact worsening the crisis.

Under the reform, the employer must assure safe and proper working conditions for all employees. If the employer violates this dictate, the working permit between the employer and employee will be nullified. For migrant workers, this so-called “fix” has evolved into another form of intimidation because if a permit is voided, the worker has no options for seeking work elsewhere in Ireland and will likely face deportation.

As a result, reports of troubling oppression and abuse have reemerged. Some workers claim they are forced to live on the boats without adequate food and without pay. Other workers allege physical abuse and deplorable living conditions. Experts have recommended reforming the reform so that workers are not tied to one employer and have a pathway to leaving a bad situation that does not involve being kicked out of the country. They also recommend giving migrant workers access to interpreters and other personnel who could advocate on their behalf.

Sign the petition below to demand Irish leaders honor their promise to review this detrimental process and make necessary changes to ensure the rights of oppressed workers are protected.


Dear Mr. Varadkar,

Irish fishing boats have been alleged receptacles of employee abuse and human trafficking for years. The most severe critics call the conditions slavery. Current efforts to remedy this crisis have seemingly only compounded it. No more should the public hear wrenching tales of abuse and mistreatment coming from these vessels, and no more should an individual’s migrant status be used as a weapon to enable violations to continue.

Please implement recommended reforms for the atypical working scheme that currently shapes the Irish fishing industry. Empower all workers to secure their right to a safe, abuse-free working environment.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Agustin Pinero

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