The ITF and ITUC urge the seafood industry to adopt a labor rights-based approach, designed to ensure that seafood workers’ rights are protected by law and collective agreements.

ITF and ITUC highlight that this kind of model is established with the support of a company of NGO/CSO as an effort to sidestep independent organising efforts by workers.

Workers’ rights to organise and bargain collectively are fundamental rights, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98, and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ITF and ITUC report.

The two Federations continued that this is another opportunity to claim that worker voice represents legitimate worker representation in their CSR reports without truly embracing freedom of association or collective bargaining with a trade union.

Moreover, according to the statements companies have to recognise independent and legitimate trade unions that represent their workforce and workers throughout their supply chain, and negotiate a binding contract with those workers in good faith covering all wages, benefits and working conditions.

Companies can and should now – voluntarily and explicitly – recognise workers’ rights to freely associate, form and join their own independent trade unions, and collectively bargain with management.

Therefore, ITF and ITUC propose the recommendations below, regardless of what the national law of any country says:

  1. The full protection of all workers’ rights to organise and bargain collectively, with the first step being advocacy for the ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 in every country involved in the seafood industry.
  2. The ratification and effective implementation of ILO Convention 188 on Work in Fishing to fully protect the living and working conditions of fishers.
  3. The ratification of the 2014 Protocol to ILO Convention 29 to ensure effective measures to prevent and eliminate forced labour prevalent in the fishing industry.
  4. Worker-driven solutions that place unions and worker-led organisations at the center and in leadership roles in seafood industry monitoring and compliance initiatives.
  5. UN agencies, the ILO, FAO, IMO and UNDOC, to continue efforts and cooperation on the development of international standards which can guide governments and companies in efforts to eliminate human rights abuses and establish decent working conditions in the sector.
  6. The premise that multinational companies and enterprises have a duty to respect human rights under the UNGPs, the ILO MNE Declaration and the OECD MNE Guidelines. Due diligence for the right to bargain collectively recognises that enterprises must be prepared to bargain under a wide range of structures in countries where the law and practice does not provide a well-defined framework for bargaining, including negotiating with independent and representative organisations like the ITF Fishers’ Rights Network (FRN).