Protecting fishers – ITF strategy update
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ITF’s Fisheries Committee has created a new Taskforce intended to provide political leadership for the ITF/IUF programme. It has been set up specifically to offer a stronger link between the two federations' policy forums and their action-based programmes.
“The members of the Taskforce have extensive union experience both in this and other industries. They will be well placed at a regional level to support new and developing affiliates, particularly in countries where unions are in a state of development and additional expertise on lobbying governments is required,” said Liz Blackshaw, Programme Leader for ITF Fisheries.
The Taskforce will develop a comprehensive work programme to be put to the next ITF Congress, covering areas such as developing work with organisations such as Interpol, the Pew Foundation and the ILO and combating forced labour, human trafficking, crime and IUU fishing in the sector.
“Working with UN agencies and world-renowned foundations ensures that labour and human rights become an integral part of all debates around the challenges of the industry, explained Blackshaw. “We are a union federation and it is imperative that the issues of labour, and the integral links between the lack of labour regulation and criminal activity in the [fishing] industry [are raised at every level].”
The committee agreed that a specific resolution would be presented to Congress 2014 in order to obtain global support for organising the fishing sector and achieving the overall aims of the ITF/IUF programme, all of which are designed to improve the lives of fishers and workers in the wider supply chain.
“Having the programme fully supported by ITF Congress will mean that ITF continues to shift the significant policy gains, such as Convention 188, directly to workers, providing a historic opportunity for them to globally organise into powerful and relevant unions,” said Blackshaw.
Work towards ratification of ILO Convention 188 continues, with a delegation from the Fisheries Section currently preparing to attend a tripartite global dialogue forum in Geneva intended to drive strategy towards ratification.
In 2007, the International Labour Organization sought to address the glaring needs of those working in the fishing industry by adopting Convention 188. The Convention sets minimum requirements of working hours and pay, conditions of employment and repatriation and medical cover for those employed, irrespective of their nationality.
Since the ILO adopted Convention 188, ITF and its affiliated unions have been working towards having its recommendations brought into force globally by ensuring it is ratified by 10 member states.
Conceived as a medium of exchange, the forum is the first of its kind and is intended to provide an overview of the work necessary to achieve the landmark of 10 ratifications.