EU partners adopt social clause

Workers’ organisation ETF and representatives from Europêche and Cogeca has adopted a revised social clause to be included in Sustainable Fisheries Agreements (SFAs) with third countries.

The newly-adopted clause refers to labour and standards of social protection and aims at ensuring decent working conditions for non-EU fishermen working onboard vessels operating through the SFAs.

The existing fishing agreements already include a social clause which was negotiated by the social partners in 2001.

“By revising the text of the clause, social partners want to make it more precise and workable and to link it to the available international instruments, notably the ILO work in fishing Convention 188, on which ETF, Europêche and Cogeca have recently concluded an agreement that should become EU law,” said Michael Claes, chair of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Sea Fisheries (SSDCSF).

Through the enforcement of the principles contained in the clause, the EU social partners say they want to ensure that principles like the right to collective bargaining, the application of decent working and living conditions, and freedom of association are enforced on EU vessels.

“We are asking the Commission to first make a legal assessment of the text that we have negotiated and then to include the new clause where possible on basis of the Union’s competences in the SFAs to be signed in the future,” said Ment van der Zwan, vice-chair of the SSDCSF.

“For most of the provisions included in the clause, it will be up to the Member States, in their capacity of flag states, to ensure that existing laws and standards are properly applied on-board of the vessels operating through the SFAs,” he added.

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