Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Fair Food Program (FFP) announce next steps for ground-breaking new worker-driven programme for UK fishing.
The new Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) programme for UK fishing is an ambitious project that is the first of its kind in Europe. Having completed an intensive twelve-month planning phase, the programme has now launched as a two-year pilot to build worker-driven, market-enforced mechanisms and systems to improve working conditions and tackle concerns of labour abuse in the UK fishing industry.
WSR is an exciting model for tackling labour abuse and exploitation in corporate supply chains, with more than a decade of proven results in industries ranging from agriculture to textiles. The model is designed to address the power imbalances that exist between workers and employers, as well as between buyers and suppliers, imbalances that drive many of the abuses found at the base of global supply chains today.
The new UK WSR fishing pilot programme will build upon learnings and examples from existing WSR programmes across the world, such as the Fair Food Programme, launched in the US in 2011 by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Bangladesh Accord launched in 2013. In the UK fishing context, the WSR programme will work closely with the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA) and other industry partners, and seek to address concerns such as those caused by the immigration ‘loophole’ of the seafarer’s ‘transit-visa’, which means migrant fishers are not protected by UK employment laws when working on UK vessels just outside of the twelve nautical mile legal limit.
“For too long, the global fishing industry has relied on voluntary standards and initiatives that demonstrably cause further harm to workers. WSR has more than 10 years of evidence supporting its effectiveness in eliminating all forms of labour exploitation, and I’m excited to see UK fisheries be world leading in implementing the first WSR program in fishing," Said Dr. Jess Sparks, Assistant Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.