The IUF Italian affiliate FLAI-CGIL hosted a European fish industry conference on November 13-14, 2014 to discuss the findings of EU-sponsored research on the quality of industrial relations in fisheries and aquaculture and to evaluate the impact of the EU Common Fisheries Policy on the quality and quantity of jobs.
The fisheries sector plays a major role in contributing to employment and local economic activity in many European regions, accounting for more than half of all jobs in some coastal communities. 127,000 fishermen are employed in the European fleet, 116,000 people work in 3,500 European fish processing enterprises and 85,000 workers are employed in aquaculture. The report highlights the high prevalence of part time workers and the low level of income – on average a worker in processing earns 28,000 euros annually.
The report shows a slow decrease in employment since 2008, although it forecasts job growth in aquaculture, which is the fastest-growing area of animal food production in the world. In Europe, which accounts for only 1.5 percent of global production by volume (3,5 percent in value), aquaculture is a profitable business for 15,000 companies, whose production in 2011 totaled nearly 4 billion Euros.
Conference participants stressed the need for a European policy for protecting and raising labour standards in the sector. The discussion included proposals for continuing of trade union cooperation in this field, such as developing of European-wide guidelines for collective bargaining, introduced by Sara Palazzoli, FLAI-CGIL national secretary.
Besides improving cooperation in Europe, European trade unions can play a vital role influencing global working conditions in the sector. The European Union is one of the largest consumers of seafood and the largest importer of fish products, accounting for 24% of total world trade. “In the long term protection of social standards in Europe will depend on us raising standards elsewhere and particularly in Asia”, said IUF general secretary Ron Oswald in his address to the conference.
The research report is available on request from the IUF secretariat ( [email protected] )