Social partners call on EU to halt abuses of migrants
On Wednesday this week (10th May) European social partners on sea-fisheries signed a resolution inviting the European Union (EU) to take up its responsibility and end forced labour practices in EU waters.
Investigations carried out by the International Transport Workersâ€™ Federation (ITF) have revealed serious infringements of fundamental principles at work and social protection rights of migrant fishers in a part of the EUâ€™s fishing sector. The social partners expect the EU to ensure that Member States fulfil their obligations and adopt guidelines for flag state and port state inspections to prevent such practices.
Inspections carried out by the International Transport Workersâ€™ Federation identified infringements in terms of intimidation and threats, retention of identify documents, withholding of wages and debt bondage, among other things.
â€˜In total the violations represent ten out of eleven indicators of forced labour mentioned in the Guidelines on flag State inspection adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO),â€™ said Flemming Smidt, as the workersâ€™ representative spokesperson.
â€˜And these breaches of international agreements that are harming fishermen and put them in inhuman conditions, happen under the watchful eye of the European Union and its Member States. This is completely unacceptable and unworthy for a Union that is condemning in the strongest terms such immoral practices outside EU waters!â€™
At its Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee meeting the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union (COGECA), the Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises in the European Union (EuropÃªche) and the European Transport Workersâ€™ Federation (ETF) strongly condemned the lack of action from the EU to implement and enforce international agreements to protect migrant fishers working in EU waters.
â€˜With this joint resolution we give a strong signal to the responsible authorities that we as employersâ€™ and workersâ€™ representatives stand very firm and united in favour of high safety standards for all fishermen and against any practice that violates fundamental principles and rights at work or the flag Stateâ€™s legislation regardless of a fishermanâ€™s country of origin,â€™ commented Ment van der Zwan, speaking as the employersâ€™ representative.
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