Shipping, ports, fisheries and inland waterways sector

This sector is comprised of four sub-sectors: Shipping, fishing, ports and inland waterways.

Shipping: Because of the unique character of seafaring, most maritime countries have specific laws and regulations covering this occupation. Consequently, the ILO, since its founding, has had special "machinery" for conditions of work of seafarers. This includes the Joint Maritime Commission, which advises the Governing Body on maritime issues, and special Maritime Sessions of the International Labour Conference (ILC) which focus solely on the preparation and adoption of “maritime labour standards.” The recent 94th Maritime Session of the International Labour Conference adopted the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.
The main focus of ILO's maritime programme is the promotion of maritime labour standards using all of the ILO's means of action. The ILO has also published codes of practice, guidelines and reports addressing seafarers' labour issues. The ILO cooperates with other United Nations agencies with an interest in the maritime field, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

Ports: The importance of the port industry for economic and social development cannot be overstated.

As the transport sector has become increasingly competitive and global, many developments have taken place in the organization of work in the port industry during the last decade, and these developments have also affected labour and social conditions in the industry.

The importance of social dialogue between governments, employers and workers’ representatives for effectively managing new developments is now widely recognized; however, there is a need for strengthening the institutions and capacity for social dialogue between the parties.

Due to its unique tripartite structure, the ILO has a major role in the collective efforts that aim at providing socially responsible solutions to the challenges faced by the port sector.
Presently, the ILO’s port related activities, at the core of which is social dialogue, cover: safety and health; security; training; gender issues; HIV/AIDS; and the role of ports in the supply chain.

: There are over 30 million fishers worldwide. Of these, over 15 million are working full-time on board fishing vessels. Fishing is one of the most challenging and hazardous occupations.

The ILO is working to ensure decent work for all fishers. This site describes the work of the Sectoral Activities programme to improve conditions of fishers. It links to other activities underway in the ILO and describes work carried out with other United Nations system specialized agencies.

The Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) demonstrates the renewed commitment by the ILO to ensure decent work in fishing. Convention 188 aims to ensure decent conditions of work with regard to minimum requirements for work on board; conditions of service; accommodation and food; occupational safety and health protection; medical care and social security. A major effort is underway in the ILO to achieve widespread ratification and implementation of the Convention.

Inland Waterways: Inland waterways play an important role in the transport of goods and persons in many parts of the world. Inland navigation personnel are faced with unique living and working conditions which require special consideration by the ILO. The aim of ILO activities in this sector is to achieve decent work for all inland navigation personnel.