Almost every day, the media expose new facts about slavery and other unacceptable labour practices in the seafood sector. Thousands of workers are engaged in their daily fight for a change, calling for help, and this call can no longer be ignored. Urgent measures must be taken by the employers, governments and relevant UN structures to rectify the situation, reduce criminality, and create opportunities for the workers to implement their fundamental right to improve their own working and living conditions.
That was the conclusion of the first international meeting of the IUF-affiliates, representing seafood workers’ unions which was hosted by the Norwegian food workers union (NNN) in Oslo on November 23-24, 2015.
47 participants from 17 countries discussed the obstacles to the unionisation of seafood workers and how an international organization can become an instrument to overcome them. Delegation of the International Transport Workers Federation, representatives of the UN ILO and FAO joined in the deliberation.
The meeting committed IUF affiliates to work together and support the seafood workers’ attempts to organise, fight for, and win their rights. Cross-border and cross sectoral organising activities are needed to unite workers along the entire seafood production chain – from farms and oceans to the plate. That means building and strengthening alliances to fight for a sustainable fishing industry, decent living and working conditions for all fishers and workers in the fish processing and distribution sectors; improving internal coordination and building sufficient capacity to walk the long path of organising aquaculture and fish farm workers, small-scale and commercial fisheries operations.
The meeting saluted the fish workers in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea who are at the frontline of our battle for justice, and called on workers of all nations to join the international movement for dignity and respect for seafood workers.