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Working Conditions in Fisheries: Agreement Signed by Social Partners

22 May 2012

EU - Representatives of the European Union's employers and trade unions in the sea fisheries sector signed an agreement to ensure that fishermen have decent working conditions on board fishing vessels with regard to minimum requirements for conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection, medical care, and social security.

This agreement implements at EU level the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on "Work in the fishing sector".

This agreement confirms the EU's commitment to improving the working conditions of fishermen both in Europe and globally. The EU social partners intend to ask the Commission to present their Agreement to the EU's Council of Ministers in order to implement it through an EU Directive, in accordance with Article 155 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, and so make the rules legally binding in the EU and enable speedier ratification of the ILO Convention.

The agreement was signed by Javier Garat, President of Europêche and Giampaolo Buonfiglio, on behalf of Cogeca, as Chairman of the Fish Working Party of Copa-Cogeca for the employers. Eduardo Chagas, Secretary General of the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) signed as the employees' representative. The agreement was signed at the European Maritime Day conference, which takes place on May 21-22 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who was present at the signing event, said: "This agreement is the key step to legally bind EU Member States to improving the working conditions for fishermen in Europe. It applies, in principle, to all fishing vessels and all fishermen, including multi-national crews. It obliges authorities to monitor whether the rules are complied with, and encourages coordination among relevant authorities. Making fishing safer and more attractive as a profession is one of the goals of the ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy."

Commissioner László Andor, in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: "I welcome this agreement to set clear benchmarks for improving working conditions and the health and safety of fisheries workers. The agreement demonstrates how social dialogue can play an important role in designing EU regulation."

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