Millions at risk as UK supermarkets insist on rights for crews
The migrant workers scandal engulfing the Irish fishing industry is threatening multi-million euro contracts between Irish fish suppliers and British buyers, it emerged last night.
The Irish Independent has learned that at least a dozen fish processing companies throughout the country have been warned they face having their contracts being cancelled or suspended unless they can supply evidence that 'exploited' migrant workers were not involved in the catching of their fish.
"They (the buyers) are seeking cast-iron guarantees," one major processor told us last night. "It isn't a problem for our company, but it could cause huge problems for many other processors."
Another senior member of staff at another processor warned: "This could be an unmitigated disaster for the industry and threatens to get out of control very, very quickly unless the Government gets to grips with it... We are being asked to supply evidence that our fish is being caught by trawlers staffed by legal workers. That may prove impossible."
UK supermarkets are sensitive when suppliers are linked in any way to poor treatment of workers. Last month, Waitrose, Marks & Spencers and Sainsbury's suspended taking fruit from a supplier in England over allegations by Channel Four News that migrant workers were being underpaid.