IRISH FERRIES BARRED – turned away by port workers in Dublin and Rosslare

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Rosslare and Dublin port workers have said they will not handle Irish Ferries ship the MV Normandy if it tries to dock at their ports, because of the treatment of crews on the Isle of Inishmore and Ulysses, who are fighting attempts to bring in cheap labour.

Irish Ferries asked Iarnrod Éireann, which operates the ports of Rosslare and Dublin, to fulfil its contract to handle the MV Normandy.

Iarnrod Éireann had told Irish Ferries that because of health and safety concerns, the docking of the Normandy could not be facilitated.

The International Transport Federation and SIPTU trade union said earlier they had received reports that the Normandy may be now heading to Cork.

The Dublin and Rosslare port workers are backing Isle of Inishmore and Ulysses crew members’ demands that security personnel and Latvian and other east European ‘agency’ workers be removed from the ships, which remain moored for the fourth day at Pembroke Docks and Holyhead respectively.

Irish Ferries services across the Irish Sea are suspended.

SIPTU trade union leaders have accused Irish Ferries of ‘thuggery’.

Deck officers on board the Isle of Inishmore at Pembroke Dock yesterday managed to take control of the bridge on the ship.

SIPTU said that three of the deck officers who are members of SIPTU managed to make their way past security guards onto the bridge.

Four other SIPTU members on the ship remain barricaded in the engine room.

Last Thursday, the four officers barricaded themselves in the Inishmore’s engine room after Irish Ferries sent 70 Latvian and other scabs on board with 15 security personnel.

Seamen’s Union of Ireland General Secretary Bob Carrick claimed Irish Ferries had put people on board the ship as normal passengers, who later changed into security guards’ uniforms.

He said: ‘These people went into one of the toilets on the ship and changed into what can only be described as battle gear. They came out in flak jackets and all dressed in black.

‘The crew got an awful fright – they thought they were terrorists.’

Gary Jones, one of the officers involved in the engine room occupation on the Isle of Inishmore, said their protest would last for ‘as long as it takes’.

He added: ‘We’ve given everything away to the company over the last two years and there is nothing left to give now.

‘They want our jobs now. It’s the final straw.’

The International Transport Workers’ Federation said on Saturday that a member of British officers’ union, NUMAST, was refused permission to board the ship.

The ITF also said the crew on the Ulysses are not free to leave the ship.

SIPTU is threatening to mount blockades of ports unless the security personnel and agency crews are removed.

SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor moved a motion at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions executive meeting last Friday calling for a National Day of Protest.

ICTU EC members expressed sympathy and are holding an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the Irish Ferries crisis and decide on a Day of Protest.