Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive: ETF strongly opposes exclusion of seafarers and fishers

5 Feb 2019

The EU wants to give us the right to basic information about our own working conditions: predictable schedules, how we can access healthcare, whether we can have a second job. Surely we should all get this information?

Sadly, despite months of negotiations, many EU member states insist that seafarers and fishers should be excluded from the guarantees in the new Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive – which will be finalised on Wednesday 5 February 2019. Of course we think that is unfair, but we call on governments to at least state why they are sticking to this position. Are they frightened what a little bit of transparency might reveal about working conditions in European maritime transport and fisheries?

Seafarers and fishermen are often denied basic social rights that are granted to onshore workers. Now they could once again pay a heavy price. As part of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission has developed a proposal for a Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive. This is a broad package of rules, which aims to grant all workers in Europe equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, and social protection and inclusion. The hope is especially to support those working in precarious conditions. Shamefully, when adopting their general approach, Member States decided to exclude these categories of workers from a number of provisions without any clear justification.

To exclude seagoing workers from rights such as information in case of unpredictable work patterns, or information on the identity of the social security institution(s) receiving the social contributions attached to the employment relationship, is to deny them to enjoy basic social rights being granted to onshore workers.

“It is disgraceful to see that there are once again attempts to exclude seagoing workers from social legislation in Europe. This runs counter to the pursued objective of the initial Commission proposal, which is intended to apply to all sectors and all categories of workers. ETF demands that the Council explains the blatant contradiction between this decision and past legislation which ended exclusion of these categories of workers,” said Philippe Alfonso, ETF Political Secretary for Maritime Transport.

“It took years to reach a compromise agreement with the shipowners to include seafarers, through Directive 2015/1794, in a number of key social and employment directives – notably on information and consultation of workers. We therefore call on EU policymakers to prevent all these efforts from being undermined and to avoid excluding seafarers once again,” said Mark Dickinson, ETF spokesperson to the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Maritime Transport.

An ETF position paper provides extensive arguments explaining why seafarers and fishermen have to be treated on an equal footing with workers onshore.