Labour Disputes and Power imbalances in the Taiwanese Fishing Industry

Press Release

7th December 2019


“Intan was asked to continue working on the vessel despite the wound being fresh and in the healing stage.”


London. UK.  Following recent advocacy work aimed at achieving ongoing improvements in the working conditions and protections for all fishers in the Taiwanese fishing industry, Human Rights at Sea today issues a new evidential case study.


Highlighting the worrying power imbalance between migrant fishers, vessel owner, and the recruitment and manning agencies resulting in inappropriate arbitrary termination of the work contract by employer and the denial of workers’ rights for sick leave, the case study also highlights the need to align national polices and standards with international convention.


Noting recent Taiwanese Government efforts to address concerns raised by civil society and local worker representative organisations for migrant fishers, there remains a significant way to go before robust worker protections are the common standard across the whole fishing sector.

台灣正在內法化國際勞工組織第188號公約「2007年漁業工作公約」(ILO Convention 188 Work in Fishing Convention, 2007)以及相關的安全、勞工和社會福利標準。然而,公民社會非政府組織持續發現證據,顯示招募仲介機構在保護這群對維護包括地方和國家經濟在內的漁業供應鏈起重要作用的漁工往往不合標準。

Taiwan is in the process of adopting the ILO C188 ‘Work in Fishing’ Convention with the associated safety, labour and social welfare standards. Yet, evidence continues to be made available to civilsociety NGOs that recruitment and manning agency actions are often sub-standard in protecting the very workers who are instrumental in upholding the fisheries supply chain, including the local and national economies.


The new report “Labour Disputes Reveal a Worrying Power Imbalance and Vulnerability of Migrant Fishermen in Taiwan’s Fishing Industry” highlights ongoing incidents which demonstrate gaps in fair management practices for the protection of fishers. It compares the study material with established ILO 188 standards, as well as standards within Taiwanese domestic law for the protection of workers.

Labour Disputes, Power Imbalance and Vulnerability of Migrant Fishermen in Taiwan’s Fishing Industry – December 2019

At the end of the October 2019, in a main Taiwanese fishing port there was a reported dispute between a Taiwanese employer, a Taiwanese manning agent and two Indonesian brothers who worked on the same offshore fishing vessel. While the dispute ended peacefully with the intervention and mediation of local Catholic social welfare group, Rerum Novarum Center, the cause of the dispute demonstrated a worrying power imbalance between employers, agents and fishers.

Also available to download:

Taiwan Fisheries Human Rights Baseline Study Report – October 2019

A baseline human rights study of the human rights awareness, provisions, policy and protections for national and migrant fishers working in the Taiwanese coastal and distant water fleets.




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