A migrant fisherman working on a shrimp boat off the coast of Dublin has told the Workplace Relations Commission that he and two colleagues worked at sea for up to 17 hours a day and owe £140,000 in unpaid wages.
The fisherman snapped a photo of what he said was a blank timesheet that his employer had asked him to sign. An employer’s lawyer said the photographed form in fact suggested that there was no fishing during the period in question.
The three fishermen were working aboard the Skerries-based trawler Nausicaa. They claim that the legal working time records for the trawler are not accurate and that together they owe about €140,000.
Khaled Elagamy, Mohamed Shokr Ghonim and Salem Elfeky have all filed complaints under the Wages Payment Act and the National Minimum Wage Act against the ship’s owner, Richard Brannigan. Mr Brannigan denies any violations of labor laws and argues that all three men were paid correctly.
At a hearing at Lansdowne House, Dublin 4, on Thursday, Mr. Elagamy that from 2014 to 2016 he worked as a share fisherman for Mr. Brannigan had been working when he was awarded a contract consistent with the government’s work permit system for undocumented crew members. in the industry.
His union representative, Michael O’Brien of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, asked the witness if he was given a monthly form detailing his work and rest times in accordance with the requirements of the scheme.
“I get a blank form and I sign without it filled in,” replied Mr. Elagamy, adding in response to further questions that he “didn’t see any recorded hours on the sheet”.
He confirmed that he had photographed such a form, which was attached to the complainant’s observations.
Mr Elagamy said when the Nausicaa was on the fishing ground the crew would work up to 20 hours a day, making four shots from the net and working for about three hours to level and clean the catch after they got on board brought.
Mr O’Brien told him that Mr Brannigan claimed that there were days when the boat was at sea and that he was not working. “No, the boat can’t work without us,” replied Mr. Elagamy.
Mr O’Brien asked his client about two dates in May and August 2021 when the employer’s records showed he was not at work when he said the Nausicaa was at sea.
Mr Elgamy said he was on duty on both dates and added: “How could I be on the boat and not work?”
Processing the catch
He said that in addition to getting the nets and processing the catch, he also had to do his share of the watch and steer the ship—a task he said could take anywhere from an hour to three or four hours. While at sea, he said, he only slept seven hours in a week.
Mr Elagamy was questioned by Ruairí Ó Cathán of Conway Solicitors, before the respondent, who told him that his union had provided a photo which he claimed was a blank form.
“You gave this, which isn’t really clear. I can’t decipher the date. I can leave the comments to the right of [the] leaf,” he said.
“I do know that that’s very similar to ‘NF’ and ‘NF’ means ‘no fishing’ and based on that, if you don’t fish, there won’t be hours filled in, so that’s why that seems to be blank,” he said. .
He made what he said was a “clear copy” of an example of the form regarding an NF period.
Mr. O’Brien objected to the production of the timesheets at this stage, arguing that his side did not possess the material the employer wanted to import. The bailiff agreed with “great reluctance” to adjourn the hearing to give complainants time to review the timesheets.