Fishers to get new protections in 12 months

Millions of workers in the fishing sector are set to see improved working conditions, thanks to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention 188, which will enter into force on 16 November 2017.

The ITF warmly welcomed the ILO’s announcement that Lithuania’s ratification of the convention meant there were now the required 10 countries to enable the convention to come into force.

The convention aims to ensure that fishers:

• have improved occupational safety and health and medical care at sea, and that sick or injured fishers receive care ashore

• receive sufficient rest for their health and safety

• have the protection of a written work agreement

• have the same social security protection as other workers

It also aims to ensure that fishing vessels are constructed and maintained so that workers have decent living conditions on board.

The ITF has helped to expose the exploitation of migrant fishers in the UK and Ireland, abuses in fishing in the world’s food supply chains, and the horrors of slavery in the Thai fishing industry. It has campaigned vigorously for wider ratification of ILO convention 188, for more fishers to be covered by collective agreements with land-based fisheries workers, and for fishing vessels to have a collective agreement on board.

In response to the growing numbers of calls of help they receive from fishers, ITF inspectors have recently discussed how and when they will start inspecting fishing vessels, as they currently do merchant ships.

Chair of the ITF fisheries section committee Johnny Hansen said: “Fishers experience some of the worst abuses in one of the most dangerous – and lawless - working environments.

“When ILO convention 188 comes into force next year it will herald a new era for fishers. It will help to improve their working conditions and provide protection against the most extreme, and widespread, abuses of forced labour and human trafficking.”

Convention 188 has been ratified by Angola, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Congo, Estonia, France, Morocco, Lithuania, Norway and South Africa.

Find out more about the ITF’s work to promote convention 188. 

Download the ITF’s convention 188 toolkit for unions. 

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