A migrant fisherman working on a prawn boat off the Dublin coast has told the Workplace Relations Commission that he and two of his associates worked 17 hours a day at sea and were owed €140,000.
What the fisherman said produced a photo of a blank time sheet his employer had asked him to sign. A lawyer for the employer said the photographed form actually suggested that there was no fishing during the period in question.
The three fishermen worked on the trawler Nausika at Skreese. They claim that the statutory working time records for the trawlers are not accurate and that they collectively owe €140,000.
Khalid Elagami, Mohamed Shokar Ghonim and Salem Elfeki have all filed complaints against the ship’s owner, Richard Brannigan, under the Pay Act and the National Minimum Wage Act. Mr Brannigan denied any violation of employment law and said all three men were properly paid.
Giving evidence at a hearing on Thursday at Lansdowne House, Dublin 4, Mr Elagami said he had worked as a stock fisherman for Mr Brannigan from 2014 to 2016, when he was given the government’s work permit scheme for undocumented crew. was placed on contract accordingly. in the sector.
His trade union representative, Michael O’Brien of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, asked the witness whether he had been given a monthly form with his working hours and rest periods in line with plan requirements.
“I find a form blank and I sign nothing filled in it,” replied Mr. Elagami, responding to further questions that he “did not see any recorded hours on the sheet”.
He confirmed that he had photographed a form which was included in the submissions of the complainant.
Mr Elagami said that while Nausika was on the fishing grounds, the crew would work for 20 hours a day, performing four shots of the net and working to grade and clean it for about three hours after the catch.
Mr O’Brien told them that Mr Brannigan said there were days when the boat was at sea and he was not at work. “No, the boat cannot work without us,” replied Mr. Elagami.
Mr O’Brien asked his client about two dates in May and August 2021 when employer records indicated he was not at work when he said Nausica was at sea.
Mr Elgamy said he was at work on both dates and added: “How could I have been on the boat and not working?”
processing the catch
He said that in addition to hauling nets and processing the catch, he also had to do his part of supervising and steering the ship – a duty which he said could last an hour or three or four hours. While at sea, he said, he got just seven hours of sleep in the span of a week.
Mr. Elagami was cross-examined for the defendant by Rueri A. Cathan, Conway Solicitor, who told him that his trade union had supplied a photograph which it argued was a blank form.
“You provided it, which isn’t particularly clear. I can’t tell the date. I can’t comment to the right of [the] sheet,” he said.
“I know it looks like ‘NF’ and ‘NF’ means ‘no fishing’ and on that basis if there is no fishing then no hours can be filled, so it appears blank,” he said. Told. ,
What he said was a “clear copy” of an example of the form regarding an NF term.
Mr. O’Brien objected to the production of the time sheet at this stage, arguing that his side did not have the right to the material the employer wanted to produce. The adjudicating officer, with “great reluctance”, agreed to adjourn the hearing to give the complainants time to review the time-sheets.