Workers in the fishing industry experience some of the worst abuses in the transport sector, and ITF stands in solidarity with them. Over the last four years we have been supporting fishers around the world to fight for their basic rights.

The conference heard from ITF organiser Jon Hartough about our flagship project to organise migrant fishers in the Thai fishing industry, and from Saw Bow Htoo, a migrant worker on the frontline of the campaign. Although there is more work to do we’ve seen some major victories, including full access to employment contracts at port inspection points, a vessel code of conduct covering Thai Union Group’s global supply chain, and funding to ensure fishers have first-aid kits.

Ken Fleming from SIPTU gave an update on the campaign against appalling labour abuses in the Irish fishing industry. With the Irish government “joined at the hip” to powerful business lobbies, we are taking it to court next month and aiming to win a moratorium on the fishing permit system that facilitates these abuses.

Fabrizio Barcellona from the ITF secretariat introduced the section’s work programme for the coming years. Our aims include establishing a recognised fishers’ union in Thailand, organising at least 35% of migrant works in the Irish industry, and pushing for more counties to ratify and implement ILO Convention 188 on Work in Fishing. The work programme was adopted by the conference, along with motion 26 to alleviate wage dumping on either side of the African coast by negotiating strong collective bargaining agreements.

Johnny Hansen from the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union was re-elected as section chair. After elections for other positions, it was decided that youth rep Jorge Alejandro Vargas from SOMU in Argentina will make the section’s report to plenary later this week.

The ITF fisheries section is set for a great five years. In the words of Saw Bow Htoo: “If we stand together and fight we can expand our power across global supply chains. We proudly stand with you as fishers united for justice, dignity and respect.”