Excerpts on women in fishing sector

Introduction

5. The Chairperson thanked the Committee for his election and recalled that the purpose of this first consideration of a new comprehensive standard was to strengthen decent work in the fishing sector, to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and humanity. While many fishers were working under conditions consistent with that goal, there were also many who might be considered to be among the more vulnerable groups of workers. It would be a challenge to prepare a standard that did justice to the great diversity of the sector, the many types and sizes of vessels, the variety of fishing operations, and the different levels of development in the States concerned. That standard should provide protection for a good portion of the world's fishing population. It should be able to attract wide ratification in order to have a real impact on the lives of fishers. Finally, it must complement the work of other United Nations system agencies without losing sight of ILO's decent work objectives. The Chairperson stressed the time constraints facing the Committee and the objective of preparing for the second discussion at the International Labour Conference in 2005.

General discussion

11. The Employer Vice-Chairperson noted that a new instrument for the fishing sector was being discussed despite the existence of five earlier Conventions and two Recommendations. The Committee should be guided in its deliberations by an understanding of the reasons why few governments could ratify the existing instruments. Widespread ratification of the new instrument was an important goal. About 90 per cent of employment in the fishing sector was on micro- and small fishing vessels; only 5 per cent was on large fishing vessels. Micro- and small enterprises were common in both developed and developing countries. The Conclusions should aim for flexibility and balance so as to provide basic protection for all fishers, without eroding the standards enjoyed by some. Forty years had elapsed since the adoption of the last standard for the fishing sector and many changes had affected the industry. The primary goal of the ILO was to promote opportunities for men and women to obtain decent and productive work, and that meant the creation and maintenance of decent jobs. Improvements in the living and working conditions of fishers would undoubtedly lead to greater productivity as well. Her group was willing to engage in frank discussions for the purpose of developing a Convention accompanied by a Recommendation, with a view to maintaining jobs, promoting economic development and providing basic protection for all fishers.

34. The Government member of Chile, also speaking on behalf of the Government members of Argentina and Brazil, expressed concern that the current definition of fisher, which was limited to fishers on board vessels, could create an obstacle to ratification. It could be desirable to incorporate a gender dimension as well.

Examination of the proposed Conclusions contained in Report V (2)
C. Proposed Conclusions with a view to a Convention
Part I. Definitions and Scope
Point 5, clause 5 (c)

161. The Government member of Argentina submitted an amendment, seconded by the Government member of Brazil, to insert the words "man or woman" after the word "person" in clause (c). This was done because the concept of gender did not appear anywhere, and they felt it important for issues such as accommodation, to consider that the vessel could be carrying women as well as men.

163. The Government member of Denmark spoke against the amendment, on the basis of the lengthy discussions that had led to the choice of "fisher" as a term that would cover both men and women.

166. The Government member of Germany also opposed the amendment, noting that specific issues related to the situation of women could be taken into account elsewhere in the text.

Part III. Minimum requirements for work on board fishing vessels
III.2 Medical Examination

424. The Government members of Argentina, Brazil and Chile submitted an amendment to Point 20, clause (a), to add after the word "examinations" the words, "also considering gender issues". The Government member of Chile explained that provisions on medical examinations should take into account gender issues.

426. The Employer Vice-Chairperson rejected the amendment. The Committee had earlier agreed that "fisher" comprised men and women.

428. The Government member of France considered the amendment unjustified. It was up to the doctor to check the aptitude for work of both men and women. Furthermore, such an amendment would set a precedent for every ILO Convention concerning aptitude for work.

Part IV. Conditions of service
IV.1. Manning and hours of rest

459. An amendment was submitted by the Worker members to replace the title "Manning" with "Crewing/manning". A Worker member from Denmark stated that the intention of the text was to provide a more gender-neutral terminology. The proposal was to use "crewing/manning", a more inclusive term, in the title while keeping "manning" in the substantive provisions, because of its legal significance.

VI.l. Medical care

610. The Worker member from the United Kingdom introduced an amendment to replace in clause (a) the word "appropriate" by "specified"; add ", including women's sanitary protection and discreet and environmentally friendly disposal units," after the word "supplies"; and to add "and applicable international standards" after the word "voyage" to be proactive in protecting the health of women fishers.

611. The Employer Vice-Chairperson proposed a subamendment to add the words "and gender" to the original text of the paragraph, as follows: "taking into account the number and gender of fishers on board". This would adequately address the issue.

618. The Worker Vice-Chairperson replied that their amendment concerned health protection for women and that was their reason for submitting it.

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