Unions picket Brussels Expo

Unions picket Brussels Expo

Trade unions from UK, Norway, Italy, Denmark and Belgium picketed and distributed leaflets at the gates of the Seafood Expo Global to support fish workers campaigns in Philippines, Indonesia and Morocco and to call the industry to clean up human rights violations.

The campaigns in support of at workers at CitraMina, R06;PhillipsSeafood and R06;Doha were highlighted as the two global union federations representing millions of workers worldwide met the EU Commission on fisheries this week to call for an expansion of legislation to protect fishers and workers employed in the production of seafood.

The meeting coincided with the Brussels Seafood Expo Global, which brings together more than 2000 fish and aquaculture companies.

The European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) and International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF) want to see concrete mechanisms developed for ensuring respect for labour rights by companies whose products are imported into the European Union.

‘The current EU yellow card system only officially looks at a country’s IUU fishing violations,’ said chair of the ITF fisheries section committee Johnny Hansen.

‘We know that on occasion extreme labour violations are taken into account because time and time again it has been shown that these are linked with IUU fishing. What we would like to see is the commission adding all labour violations officially to their considerations of the seafood card system. That’s not going to happen overnight but we have to make a definitive start backed up by robust legislation.’

‘Barbaric human rights abuses in the fishing industry have been brought to the public’s attention through media exposure, but the abuses in many cases continue because the companies are under no real pressure to comply with international human rights standards,’ said IUF general secretary Ron Oswald. ‘Effective mechanisms must urgently be developed to ensure that companies that export their products to the European Union respect the right of workers to form trade unions and to negotiate their conditions of employment. Companies which fail to do so must face meaningful consequences.’