As the International Labour Conference (ILC) 2016 ends, we’re eager to see how the debates will shape the future of working conditions for those who work at sea.
Every year the conference, which is run by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, invites government representatives, employers and workers to join together to discuss international labour standards from their varying viewpoints.
This year, an important set of reports were released by the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) which provided groundbreaking insight into abuses of human rights and exploitive conditions of workers within the global seafood supply chains. Joining forces with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), the NGA reports provided in depth research, case studies and interviews, and outlined recommendations for improving working conditions. The reports have been adopted by the ILO who have initiated dialogue on global standards surrounding labour abuse, freedom of migration, gender equality and wage issues.
The next steps following the conference are crucial.
As many at the conference debated where and with whom the responsibility lay – employers or governments – the NGA and AFWA were keen to press the ILO to put pressure on the multinational brands to become accountable for their supply chains, stressing the need for ‘a binding legal convention regulating value chains’.
In a time where the profits of global brands have boomed as they use their weight to employ the cheapest workers at sea, driving down working conditions and wages in the process, this framework for business must be stopped to protect the rights of those who work as slaves to line the pockets of those at the top of the chain.
This will only happen if the ILO takes an active stance in moving the rights of workers forward, using its power to put legal and moral responsibilities of corporates on the agenda.