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The Nation: Working Women Need the PRO Act   |   The Guardian: 'No one thinks about them': janitors get organized in south Florida   |   Vice - Motherboard: European Lawmakers Ask Jeff Bezos to Testify About Union-Busting   |   Mother Jones: Labor Law Is Stuck in 1947. It's No Surprise Companies Keep Winning.   |   AFL-CIO: In Honor of International Workers' Day, We Must Pass the PRO Act   |   BlueGreen Alliance: The American Jobs Plan: Investing in Workers and Our Future   |   Jim Hightower: Should Water Be A Wet Dream for Wall Street Speculators   |   AFGE: VA Secretary Vows to Empower Federal Workforce, Encourage Union Organizing   |   NPR: West Virginia Unions Pressure Manchin To Back Biden On Infrastructure Plan   |   Dissent: Belabored: The Power of Alt-Labor   |   International Labor Organization: Invest in climate education to build a better workforce for a greener future   |   American Prospect: What the Mine Workers Need to Emerge in Sunlight   |   Common Dreams: Union Leader Presses Biden to Immediately Fire Trump Social Security Holdovers   |   Truthout: Staten Island Amazon Workers Begin Union Drive, Drawing Lessons From Bessemer

USA: Petition: Write Your United States Senators - Pass the PRO Act

AFL-CIO: 13 Ways the PRO Act Helps Working People

RadioLabour DailyRadio Labour:  International Labour Movement's Radio Service, Bringing Labour's Voices to the World

AFL-CIO Now Blog

LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns

People Over Profit...
Public Services International

Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation

Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress

Union Member Candidate Program...
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations

Campaign to Organize Digital Employees...
Communications Workers of America

U.S. Mail Not for Sale...
American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers

Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK

One Fair Wage...
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Committee for Better Banks...
coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations

Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers

Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States

Justice for Port Drivers...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Union Yes

ILO Labor Standards

The International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards take the form of International Labor Conventions which are ratified by member countries. Of the total number of ILO Conventions, eight are considered core labor standards, fundamental to the rights of workers. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Relevant NEWS and ARTICLES

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union

IndustriALL and Anglo American set framework for global dialogue

10 May, 2021:   In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed today with the support of the global union network, IndustriALL and Anglo American commit to sound industrial relations across Anglo American's global operations.

Anglo American recognizes IndustriALL as global counterpart and pledges its commitments for ILO fundamental rights at work and puts in place mechanisms to ensure a permanent monitoring of workers' effective access to these fundamental rights. The global dialogue mechanism will take place at least twice a year.

Among other things, the global dialogue mechanism provides for:

  • identifying collaboration opportunities on health and safety issues at the workplace, including gender-based violence
  • an opportunity for discussing Anglo American's code of conduct and an environment to work on policy matters of shared interest, like how to manage the introduction to new technologies
  • continuous dialogue and joint action on Covid-19 responses to mitigate the impact on workers and communities
  • a dialogue on how to achieve a Just Transition for coal industry workers
  • a joint commitment to the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)

Says Anglo American CEO, Mark Cutifiani: "The last year has again reminded us of the value of collaboration across the mining industry. As economies reopen and we transition towards a lower carbon future, dialogue with our employees and their representatives has never been more important. I therefore very much welcome the chance to continue the dialogue we have with IndustriALL and look forward to further productive cooperation."

Today's signature is the culmination of a process that began at the height of the commodities crises when workers across the mining industry were losing their jobs. and protests and strikes characterized industrial relations. Covid-19 brought another testing period for the mining industry but also proved an opportunity for further dialogue and collaboration between the two parties.

Says IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches: "This memorandum of understanding is ground-breaking for the mining industry and provides open channels between us and Anglo American in order to improve conflict resolution processes. The commitment goes beyond effective access to fundamental rights at work and extends to health and safety, managing the introduction of new technologies and a Just transition for coal miners and the communities around Anglo American's operations."

Anglo American is the world's largest producer of platinum, with around 40 per cent of world output, as well as a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore, and metallurgical and thermal coal with 90,000 employees.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries

XPO boss accused of receiving multi-million-pound bonus while receiving millions of UK furlough cash

10 May 2021 - PRESS RELEASE:   Unions representing workers at XPO Logistics are calling for a full investigation after it emerged the American chief executive of the company received an incentive award of up to $80 million (£57 million), while the company is estimated to have received more than £100 million from the UK government in furlough payments.

The pandemic bonus payment to Bradley Jacobs, XPO chief executive, comes amid growing scrutiny of paying senior managers large bonus and dividend payments while their companies receiving government support.

XPO employs more than 25,000 workers in the UK and carries out transport and logistics work for many of leading supermarkets including Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose and Iceland.

Unlike the chief executive, XPO staff who have risked their health and that of their families by continuing to work throughout the pandemic, will not receive any form of Covid-19 pandemic bonus, despite the unions Unite and GMB, lobbying for such a payment to be made. XPO has also refused to make up the pay of the wages of workers who have been furloughed, who are only receiving the basic 80 per cent government rate.

Analysis of the government figures of furlough payments revealed that XPO claimed more than £100 million in furlough payments. XPO may also have received millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded business rates relief. Despite claiming millions in furlough payments, XPO last year recorded $16.5 billion in revenue with a record breaking second half of the year. In July 2020, Jacobs received a long term cash award of up to $80 million and an annual bonus of $3.3 million for his handling of the Covid pandemic.

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: "The bonuses given to the chief executive are a complete kick in the teeth for the XPO workers who have risked their health to keep the company operating throughout the pandemic." There clearly appears to be one rule for the bosses and another for the workers on the frontline who have been denied any kind of bonus. What makes this even more sickening is that UK taxpayers money appears to have gone straight into the pockets of the company's American chief executive," said Draper.

GMB National Office Mick Rix said: "XPO spend on executive pay is nothing short of greed - especially when you contrast how slow XPO was to enact UK Government guidance for employers on social distancing and other requirements at the start of the pandemic." "At one stage, XPO encouraged workers to share freezer suits at its Morrison's supermarket site in Scotland - until GMB Union stepped in," said Rix. "It's time the XPO workforce was treated with respect and given a share in the vast company profits that they help contribute to."

XPO is due to spin off the logistics arms of its business under new name GXO, which will be headquartered in London. The new company GXO, will look to quickly expand by continuing its strategy of mergers, acquisitions and takeovers. The company is already extending its contract with online retailer ASOS and has secured a five year contract with the UK government to store goods and vehicles for the UK Border Force. Jacobs is set to profit from such a move, as he will own 17 per cent of both companies. The details have been disclosed ahead of the company's AGM which will be held on Tuesday 11 May online.

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about XPO's business practices. In October 2020, a global group of unions released a report on XPO detailing allegations of wage theft through misclassification and subcontracting chains of exploitation, as well as serious health and safety breaches, discrimination and sexual harassment.

"XPO is a bad operator globally. The company's health and safety record, especially in terms of its Covid response, has been such that you would expect the CEO to be penalised, not rewarded," said Noel Coard, International Transport Workers' Federation Inland Transport Section Secretary.

British unions Unite the Union and GMB have both raised serious concerns about the company's response to Covid-19, especially in its warehousing facilities. In March 2020, the XPO-run ASOS warehouse in Barnsley was dubbed 'a cradle of disease' by GMB union, where working conditions had previously been likened to that of a 'satanic mill'. In June 2020, an Iceland facility in Swindon run by XPO had an outbreak of Covid-19 in which 70 employees tested positive. Unite the Union said employees were fearful of returning to work and criticised XPO for not quarantining the site to protect workers.

Ahead of the company's AGM tomorrow, UK unions call on XPO Logistics' shareholders and customers, including the UK government and major supermarkets, to work with unions to ensure that the company values its workers, compensates them fairly, and respects international labour standards.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 20 million members from 150 countries

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

The ITUC is expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they face a brutal crackdown by the government of President Ivan Duque.

05-05-2021:   Working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, have taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. The scale of the demonstrations forced the government to withdraw the bill.

This week the government deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country. More than 1,089 cases of violence have been reported, including the following:

  • 726 arbitrary detentions
  • 28 deaths
  • 6 women raped by ESMAD soldiers
  • 234 people wounded
  • 5 demonstrators disappeared

The ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: "The ITUC stands in solidarity with the people of Colombia as they face this vicious assault by a desperate government, just for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

"We support the trade unions in Colombia, which have taken the brave decision to continue with peaceful demonstrations in line with the decisions of the National Strike Committee (NSC). "We call on the government of President Duque to end the repression now. Demilitarise urban areas, dismantle ESMAD, punish those responsible for the violence against the demonstrations, guarantee the right of peaceful protest and start negotiations over the Unified Emergency Plan with the NSC."

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

Global unions call for an end to violence in Colombia

5 May 2021:   UNI has joined other global unions: BWI, IndustriALL and PSI, together with trade union centres in Colombia (CUT, CTC and CGT) and Brazil (CUT) to condemn the current violence in Colombia and events since the national strike on 28 April.

The massacre of completely unarmed young people and citizens by the security forces, together with the disappearance of several demonstrators, has the whole world shocked.

On 3 May in the city of Cali, several demonstrators were killed by the National Police. Between 28 April, the day the National Strike began, and 4 May, there have been 28 deaths, 234 people injured, 726 arbitrary detentions, and more than 100 people disappeared as a result of the brutal repression unleashed against demonstrations in Colombia.

In a statement on 4 May, the unions call on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently intervene in Colombia to stop the brutal police violence and human rights violations that escalate with impunity.

"The best way to solve labour-related issues is to take into consideration workers' representation and collective bargaining. Therefore, we reiterate our message to the Colombian government to seek open dialogue, to listen the workers' demands and respond to the health, economic and social crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical to eradicate violence and find fairer alternatives, and not through impoverishing health, fiscal, labour and pension reforms that fall on the most vulnerable population and that would further aggravate inequality in the country."

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 countries

Covid hits India like no other natural disaster, all workers are fighting back

04 May 2021:   We stand in solidarity with the people of India, as the second wave of Covid-19 devastates the country. What is happening in India concerns us all - hospitals are overwhelmed and oxygen supplies are running out. We are witnessing a new level of crisis during this tragedy.

People from all walks of life are making extraordinary sacrifices in the fight against Covid. As India's public infrastructure is overwhelmed by the sheer number of daily new Covid cases, people are stepping in to support each other through this crisis. India's railway system is proving more critical than ever in the fight against Covid-19. Over one million railway workers are at the forefront of transporting life-saving oxygen and medical equipment across some of the most complex terrain in the world.

Railway workers are sacrificing themselves to keep this critical supply chain moving. Over 94,300 railway workers have contracted the virus so far, most of them at work, and more than 1,500 have died. The impact on their families multiplies these numbers and, as the pandemic sadly worsens over the next days and weeks, the numbers will multiply still more. Yet like doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, railway workers cast aside their own worries to help others.

Their determination and spirit are seeing oxygen and other critical medical supplies reach hospitals and communities around the country. Indian railways are already famous the world over, they are the backbone of its society, and never has the country needed its backbone more.

"The ITF stands shoulder to shoulder with its brothers and sisters in India, providing what support we can. And when all that is practical is our hearts and our solidarity, we offer those too," said Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary.

"Over and over throughout this pandemic, we have seen the poorest people in our societies suffer the most from Covid. We acknowledge this work of our Indian affiliates, and the sacrifices of their members, to continue to keep the railway moving to get urgent medical supplies through to people in desperate need." "When this crisis is over, as it will be one day, the railway workers incredible service to the public of India will be remembered. They have literally kept the country breathing." said Cotton.

Our thoughts remain with everyone in India, the ITF remains ready to support the relief efforts in the country.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 20 million members from 150 countries

MAY DAY - International Workers Day - May 01, 2021

International Workers Day

ITUC May Day statement: Job creation and the new social contract

On the 1 May, workers across the world will be celebrating the achievements of nearly 200 years of trade union activity and putting forward their demands for decent work and sustainable development.

23-04-2021:   With more than 250 million jobs lost last year to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a further 130 million jobs at risk this year, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling on governments to make job creation a central objective in ensuring recovery and resilience. Full employment, enshrined in the constitution of the International Labour Organization (ILO), must remain a priority.

This requires in particular:

  • Stepping up public investment;
  • Investing in the public sector and creating public employment programmes;
  • Stimulating the creation of quality jobs;
  • Investing in education and training; and
  • Formalising informal work.

Many governments performed well in short-term responses to unemployment and reduced working hours early in the pandemic, and these examples need to be backed up by national employment plans and industry policies everywhere.

Five demands

These plans should be centred on the urgent need to tackle climate change with Just Transition, to expand health and care provision and to repair and build quality infrastructure. Equitable taxation will be crucial to fund this effort. Any return to the failed policies of austerity would have disastrous consequences for working people and for society.

Job creation is at the core of the five demands of working people for a new social contract. The others demands are:

  • Rights, in particular the right to organise and collective bargaining;
  • Social Protection, including a global social protection fund for the least wealthy countries;
  • Equality, for women and for all groups that face discrimination;
  • Inclusion, especially the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and access for all to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

Where these demands are acted upon, shared prosperity will replace poverty, democracy will be reinforced, and societies will flourish on the basis of sound economies. Failure to follow this course will further undermine trust in governments and betray current and future generations. On May Day, trade unions around the world will be raising their voices for peace, rights, sustainability and social and economic justice, to create a world with people at its centre and no-one is left behind.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

Marking May Day: Global education unions in solidarity with Taiwanese educators

2021-04-29:   May Day for All -Education International stands in solidarity and in support of the National Teachers Association (NTA) of Taiwan, in its fight to recognise and ratify 1 May as the national holiday for working men and women in the country.

May Day is a paid holiday for private sector workers in Taiwan, but not for public sector workers. This is a glaring and visible injustice. It is also a symbol of structural discrimination in law and practice against public sector workers. Education International joins with and fully supports its member organisation, the NTA Taiwan, in its fight to make May Day a holiday for all workers.

In his statement of solidarity with the NTA Taiwan, Education International's General Secretary, David Edwards, stressed that, "on International Workers Day, or popularly known in many parts of the world as Labour Day or May Day in Taiwan, we celebrate and pay homage to those workers, men and women, who have contributed for more than a century to social justice and to building a better world". "May Day is more than just a mere holiday," he said, because "it is about recognising past achievements and planning for the future. It is also about guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens and for all workers."

Respecting workers' human rights

Edwards insisted that teachers and other public employees should be covered by the same or equivalent legal provisions and social protections. They also have the right to a dedicated seat at the negotiation table through their trade unions to achieve collective bargaining agreements.

Reiterating that governments should promote, not deny, these fundamental rights and freedoms of workers, he argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that workers in the public and private sectors are impacted equally hard. However, the rights and remuneration enjoyed are different. "In this pandemic, teachers and healthcare workers ARE and WILL BE frontline workers who strive to protect the future of Taiwan. Women and men, young or old, persons with disabilities and other difficulties, should be treated with fairness and given equal rights and protections without any discrimination."

"Teachers, like many others in public service, devote their lives to making this planet a better place to live and work. That may make them different, but human rights are inter-related and indivisible. Teachers and other public sector workers should never be distinguished from other workers in being denied the exercise of their human rights," Edwards concludes.

Fighting a glaring and visible injustice

Anand Singh, Education International's Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, also extended support and solidarity on behalf of 32 million teachers and education support personnel represented by Education International through its more than 400 member organisations in 171 countries.

"Education International joins with and fully supports our member organisation, the NTA Taiwan, in its fight to end that discrimination [in law and practice against public sector workers]," Singh said. Adding that there is more to democracy than free elections - as important as they are -, he insisted that democracy is also about guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens and for all workers. Teachers and other public employees should be covered by the same or equivalent legal protections of human rights, including trade union rights, as workers in the private sector.

Call for support

Singh stressed that Education International considers that being a teacher is important. "Teachers inspire and develop children and build the future. They fight for the public good and defend public education against those who seek to corrupt its mission by transforming it from a service to communities into a service for investors." Education International calls on the government of Taiwan to recognise May 1st May Day as workers' day, and as such as a public holiday, for all working people, including teachers.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million members in 391 organizations in 171 countries and territories

Uganda: National Strategic Organising Meeting

APR 27, 2021:   PSI affiliates in Uganda held a workshop, on 22 and 23 April in Kampala, that focused on how to strategically organise workers under the PSI project "Organising workers for trade union unity of action, density and quality public services in East Africa" sponsored by Union to Union.

Several challenges were discussed in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak, including movement restrictions that greatly hampered the recruitment process of new members. It was also observed that many organisations, some government parastatals, had to suspend the implementation and negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement. In terms of the effect on gender, domestic violence was reported as increasing as well as care work. This was validated by the Uganda Police Report on gender-based violence released in April 2021.

One of the members of the participating unions, shared her experience on Covid-19 and urged all members to take the precautions against contracting Covid-19. Being in key sectors that are considered as frontline and essential services, members were strongly encouraged to go for vaccination against Covid-19. On a positive note, the pandemic showed how important and critical the role public services had in cushioning the effects of the pandemic in any country.

Key issues that arose in terms of strategic organising included how to deal with remote work. Many workers are working remotely and reaching out to members and organising from their homes. Unlike in the workplace, this can pose challenges unless clear strategies are adopted. In addition, the Government of Uganda is in the process of merging 188 Government agencies, approximately 9000 employees could lose their jobs. This would be a big blow on workers. The unions also faulted the merger process as the unions were deliberately excluded from the process. They agreed to move expeditiously and draw up a petition to the relevant government body, including Parliament, to ask for transparency in the merger process and to see if any jobs can be saved.

Furthermore, affiliates acknowledged the need to adapt to the new norm including to the use of social media and virtual platforms to reach out to members and potential members. However, challenges were observed due to expensive and unstable internet connectivity. In addition, many workers, especially in rural settings, do not have access to android phones to connect to some of the social media platforms. Unions were advised to consider where possible phone messaging, which is not contingent on internet connectivity to ensure inclusivity.

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 30 million workers in 154 countries

Ukraine must abandon anti-worker law reform

21 April, 2021:   Ukrainian unions are concerned over at least seven anti-worker and anti-union draft laws in violation of the national constitution and international labour standards, including ILO conventions and EU directives.

Last year, mass union protests in Ukraine and global solidarity actions managed to defeat a regressive draft labour law. Legislators have instead drafted separate laws, which they try to push in the parliament aiming to simplify the regulation of labor relations and give more powers to the employers. Draft law №5371, submitted to parliament on 13 April, proposes a new "contractual regime for regulating labour relations" for small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 250 workers, with all working conditions determined by an employment contract instead of by labour law.

"This draft law threatens the majority of workers, because almost 75 percent of employers employ less than 250 people, and 73.1 percent of economically active population work in small and medium-sized enterprises. Given the widespread practice of splitting large companies into smaller ones, it would also apply to giant companies," says Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) chairman Mikhailo Volynets.

All norms and provisions that would normally be in the collective agreement, would instead be set in the employment contract with each worker. The employment contract would determine the grounds for dismissal instead of the current strict list of grounds provided by the labour code. The contract would allow for worse working conditions than guaranteed by legislation, that wages are paid once a month instead of twice, which is the case today, and that wages are set without reference to wage rates in the collective agreement.

"Different employment contracts with workers that perform same volume of work in the same working conditions can lead to discrimination if they receive different wages due to personal preferences and other subjective criteria of the employer," says the chairman of the Trade Union of Metalworkers and Miners of Ukraine (PMGU), Alexander Ryabko.

According to Atomprofspilka chairman Valery Matov, the biggest worker organizations were not consulted on the draft law, in violation of ILO Recommendation №189.

"We are calling on the Joint representative body of all-Ukrainian trade unions to apply to international institutions and to the President of Ukraine to prevent the adoption of the draft law. Given the difficult economic situation, limited employment opportunities, potential workers will be forced to agree to these conditions in order to get a job."

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Ozkan says: "We support our Ukrainian affiliates in their struggle against the anti-worker and anti-union draft laws and will provide assistance to make sure Ukrainian labour law complies with core international labour standards."

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries

IKEA Korea Workers Union reaches first collective agreement in IKEA Korea

21 April 2021:   Following 40 rounds of negotiations, 140 days of industrial action, and four days of strike in the last 11 months, Korean IKEA workers have won better working conditions, rights, and pay through their first collective agreement with the company.

Their union, the IKEA Korea Workers Union, was established in February 2020, and they quickly won recognition thanks to the successful organizing campaign run despite the pandemic. The results of the union's struggle is an agreement containing 118 provisions for stable working hours, meal allowances, sick leave, union due payments, break time requirements, annual leave, and union activities among others wins.

Sister Chung Min-Jeong, IKEA Korea Workers Union president said, "Today, I got the news that IKEA declared 2021 as a year of sustainability. It means that the company should respect workers, recognize the value of work and seek mutual cooperation between workers and management."

Short and non-guaranteed working hours were the most critical issue for the workers. Irregular schedules and ever-changing shifts prevented workers from seeking additional employment. These conditions also made it difficult to establish a good work-life balance. The collective agreement sets a floor for minimum hours and guaranteed break time. It also sets a standard of 12 hours of rest between two shifts to prevent sleep deprivation and overwork. New paid sick leave provisions mean that workers no longer have to choose between their financial stability and taking care of their health.

"This is a great momentum for IKEA Korea Workers Union to ensure freedom of association in the company," said Sister Chung. "IKEA workers in Korea will be able to enjoy trade union rights without any threat or intimidation."

"We welcome this ground-breaking collective agreement. The victories here show the power that dedicated organizing drives can make when accompanied by international solidarity," said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. "We are looking forward to collaborating further with IKEA Korea Workers Union in our IKEA Global Trade Union Alliance."

IKEA Korea workers' win will hopefully be the first of many. UNI Apro Regional Secretary, Rajendra Acharya noted, "We will keep working with the Korean unions to achieve more collective agreements in more multinational companies."

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 countries

Buyer beware: new FISH standard won't stop abuse at sea

20 Apr 2021 | PRESS RELEASE:   A new report by human rights, labour and environmental organisations has exposed the latest attempt by employers to satisfy consumer concerns on the welfare of fishers and seafood workers while taking minimal action to stop abuse and exploitation in high seas fisheries.

The FISH Standard is supposed to provide 'a voluntary, independent and accredited third-party certification program for labour practices on vessels in wild-capture fisheries around the globe', but critics from the Seafood Working Group (SWG) watchdog say the 'standard' "will fail to achieve its stated objective" due to a lack of a meaningful voice for workers, compounded by a lack of auditing and enforcement mechanisms.

"We support the findings of the Seafood Working Group that this new FISH Standard will have only a minimal impact in stopping abuse and exploitation in the global fisheries industry," said Rossen Karavatchev, coordinator of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Fisheries Section.

"Certifications developed by employers or corporations -in this case seafood processors- often miss the mark because they are primarily concerned with their own image and making the industry appear better than it really is in an effort to keep consumers buying their products guilt-free, rather than improving actual working conditions." "But without ways for workers and their unions to independently audit and report on the conditions on trawlers and other industrial fishing vessels - the FISH standard is nothing but a whitewash, a useless label which does not translate into better working conditions."

Karavatchev said the ITF was advising seafood brands and retailers against using the FISH Standard for Crew as guide for buying ethical fish and seafood products. He said it was essential for wholesale buyers and everyday consumers to reject voluntary, meaningless certifications like FISH. "Trusting seafood and fisheries corporations draw up their own toothless standards is like asking the fox to watch the henhouse. It is ridiculous to think that companies can effectively police themselves voluntarily and guarantee that the rights of workers in their supply chains are not violated," said Karavatchev.

Empower fisheries workers to speak up - ITF

ITF Fisheries Section chair Johnny Hansen said that the only way that consumers could be sure that workers' rights were being respected in a supply chain was by buying products compliant with standards which recognised independent trade unions.

"The fact is that workers having, and being part of, independent trade unions is the only way companies can be held accountable for their treatment of fishers. If workers have strong unions, they can blow the whistle on abuses they see towards crew, help stop human trafficking and forced labour, or raise other concerns they see in supply chains such as illegal trawling and environmental dumping." "Without strong unions, fishers are often frightened of the consequences of speaking out - especially if they have been trafficked or employers are holding their passports, which is alarmingly common in high seas industrial fisheries."

Hansen said seafood brands and retailers should adopt worker-centered, worker-driven models of labour participation, monitoring and remediation, instead of voluntary corporate certifications like FISH.

"We need to see consumers and governments demanding that global seafood supply chains have binding and enforceable collective agreements with fishers' and food processing workers' unions." "The best friend an ethical consumer can have is a unionised worker with a collective agreement empowered to speak up when things are not right. That's how we end exploitation in fishing," said Hansen.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 20 million members from 150 countries

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