A stand-off has continued overnight on board two Irish Ferries vessels docked at the Welsh ports of Pembroke and Holyhead.
It follows yesterday's decision by the company to proceed with its controversial policy of outsourcing jobs by bringing in cheaper, agency staff from Eastern European countries to replace more expensive Irish workers.
Welsh police have been monitoring the situation on the Isle of Inismore, at Pembroke, where the company put extra security personnel in place yesterday as agency staff were being brought on for training.
A similar situation prevails on the Ulysses at Holyhead.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has condemned the situation which has developed on Irish Ferries' vessels.
The decision by Irish Ferries to press ahead with plans to replace its Irish crew with cheaper foreign labour was largely expected. But unions are furious at the manner in which the company has chosen to execute its controversial plan.
On two Irish Ferries vessels yesterday, private security staff who boarded as passengers changed into uniform as the ships docked at Holyhead and
Pembroke. At both ports, agency staff from Eastern Europe were ready to board the ships, to begin training. In Pembroke, crew members locked themselves into the engine room in protest.
The company claims it had no choice as it would go out of business if it retains Irish staff at Irish rates of pay for the next two years.
But the Seamens' Union of Ireland - which had supported the redundancy plan for its members - and SIPTU - which was opposed - have said they are appalled by the company's tactics.
This followed the Taoiseach's statement that the Government was powerless in the dispute. But SIPTU argued that laws could be changed to protect Irish jobs and prevent the exploitation of foreign workers.
After the latest developments the Taoiseach condemned the company for ignoring a Labour Court recommendation and said it had gone to unacceptable resorts which were at odds with the proper way to conduct industrial relations.http://www.rte.ie/business/2005/1125/icg.html
Isle of Inishmore here