ILO Ghana rep pushes for swift ratification of work in fishing convention

The National Program Coordinator for the 8.7 Accelerator Lab Programme, ILO Emmanuel Kwame Mensah, (left) and Principal Maritime Administration Officer at GMA, Awudu Enusah (right)

The need to enhance the living conditions of Ghanaians living and working aboard fishing vessels has become even more pressing today.

Many Ghanaian fishers are said to be undertrained, underpaid, and living under near harsh working conditions on board the vessels they work on, making the trade increasingly unattractive.

The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in fulfilment of one of its core mandates, has begun efforts to collaborate with responsible agencies like the International Labour Organisation to promote decent working conditions in the fishing sector.

In this vein, even though Ghana is yet to ratify the ILO C188 Work in Fishing Convention, the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has begun the implementation of the provisions in the work in fishing convention prior to the official national endorsement.

According to the Principal Maritime Administration Officer at GMA, Awudu Enusah, in addition to ongoing stakeholder engagements with employers and employees of Ghanaian registered fishing vessels, enforcement of the acquisition of medical certificates and safety training certificates among others are being done.

He also said the GMA has set in place a hotline for crew to report inappropriate working conditions to the Authority if on-board complain procedures fail.

According Mr. Enusah all these are to ensure that “fishers to enjoy the same working conditions that workers on shore do.”

He was speaking on the Eye on Port TV program on Accra-Based Metro TV.

Contributing to the discussion was Mr. Emmanuel Kwame Mensah, the National Program Coordinator for the 8.7 Accelerator Lab Programme at the International Labour Organisation.

He was full of praise for the preliminary ground works being set in place by the GMA, and the support received by other governmental partners, vessel owners and employees alike.

Nonetheless, Mr. Mensah said ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention must come soon as “it will set out the playing field for clear mechanisms and measures that can monitored and supported” by his outfit, who are ready to provide the necessary technical support.

He expressed hope that ratification will come ahead of the national elections in 2024 where the government may become preoccupied with other governance issues.

The ILO rep revealed that indeed cabinet has endorsed and parliament is reviewing to give their approval.

He said ratification will give full permission for the provisions in this global convention to be applicable in Ghana and will go a long way to send a clear signal that the country wants to take head on measures to deal with the labour issues of the sector.

The C188 work in fishing recommendations adopted by the ILO in 2007 address such matters as minimum age for work on a fishing vessel, medical standards, work agreements, occupational safety & health, and social security.

He said in addition to promote a culture where employers and employees have meaningful dialogue, protection against socio-economic shocks, his program is particularly interested in eliminating forced labour before 2030.

He said findings indicate that more than 128,000 fishers across the world are trapped in forced labour and there is sporadic evidence of this phenomenon in Ghana even though proper research is yet to be conducted locally.

Mr. Mensah highlighted that the expected outcome at the end of these initiatives will be a fishing sector where labour is voluntarily, productive, safe and secure for fishers and their families.

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