The Welsh TUC is supporting a rally at 1.30 pm tomorrow at Pembroke Dock in solidarity with the Irish Ferries workers fighting attempts to replace them with East European cheap labour.
The protest is being organised by the international Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
Wales TUC spokesman Darron Dupre said yesterday that, despite the short notice of the gathering, they hope for a good turnout.
The ITF’s Irish inspector, Tony Ayton, welcomed support from the Wales TUC. He said that ITF inspectors are still having difficulty accessing Irish Ferries vessels.
Ayton added: ‘The company has told our co-ordinator for Britain and Ireland, Norrie McVicar, he might be allowed access to the Isle of Inishmore in Pembroke, but only on a highly restricted basis that would not allow him to do his job.’
Wales TUC Executive Committee member Brian Curtis, who is also local head of the RMT (Rail, Marine and Transport) union, said yesterday: ‘We’re calling on all members of the public to support the workers of Irish Ferries.
‘This is a matter of serious public concern and it could determine what sort of society we are creating for our children, both in the UK and Ireland.’
The Wales TUC was committed to preventing a ‘race to the bottom’ for all workers.
‘If this race is allowed to begin, using exploited migrant workers as a paean, then the future of workers and the economy of Wales in general will be completely undermined by the greed of a few,’ Curtis said.
Three ships officers – SIPTU members Brian Whitfield, John Curry and Gary Jones – remain barricaded into the control room on the Isle of Inishmore, while crews on the Ulysses and the Jonathan Swift in Dublin are preventing their ferries from sailing.
Meanwhile, Dublin port workers are refusing to handle any of Irish Ferries’ ships after voting to support the Irish Ferries workers.
Members of the marine division of Ireland’s largest union SIPTU at Dublin Port ‘have decided unanimously to support their colleagues at the ferry company’, branch secretary Paul Smyth said.
Announcing the vote on Wednesday night, he said: ‘As a result of this ballot, our members will not handle any Irish Ferries ships – such as the MV Normandy – until such time as the dispute is resolved.’
The MV Normandy was allowed to dock late last Sunday night at Dublin with 113 passengers, for what was described as humanitarian reasons, after Rosslare port workers forced it to divert to the Irish capital.
The Normandy has since sailed to Cherbourg. SIPTU has given the company notice its members will not allow it to return.
Meanwhile, shipping agent Victor Treacy International has chartered a Brittany Ferries freight ferry on behalf of frustrated hauliers, to carry trucks to France.
Jimmy Quinn of the Irish Road Hauliers Association said a huge backlog of freight was building up as a result of action on the ships.
He warned: ‘A lot of stuff, like salmon and lamb are very seasonal goods and they need to move and move pretty damn quickly.’