Representativeness of trade unions and employer associations in the sea fisheries sector - United Kingdom

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Employee representation,
  • Social partners,
  • Published on: 06 Marzec 2012



About
Country:
United Kingdom
Author:
Institution:

The UK sea fishing sector in 2009 comprised 1,715 firms with aggregate employment of 10,256. There is no collective bargaining coverage in the sector and minimal, if any, union membership due to the pervasive model of share fishing. There are two dominant employers’ associations which represent the sector at a national, and European, level on sector-specific issues.

Sectoral properties

Economic background

There are 1,715 firms in the sea fishing sector. Aggregate employment in the sector stands at 10,256 (13,374 in 1999) with 4,343 employees, and the sectoral share of employment stands at less than 1%. There are 6,500 vessels registered in the UK, although fishing effort is concentrated in a small number of large vessels – those over 18 metres in length account for 8% of the boats in the UK fleet and 79% of its capacity.

In the UK, sea fishing almost exclusively comprises SMEs and family-owned businesses. Specifically, the sector operates using share-fishing whereby fishermen are typically self-employed, working for a percentage of each catch and are not guaranteed an income. Fishermen remunerated on a share basis are not ‘employees’ and their distinct legal status gives particular provisions under the working time directive.

The main employers’ associations, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) consult with national government on issues of total allowable catches and quotas, effort control, marine strategy framework directive and common fisheries policy reform. There is no conclusive evidence that the economic downturn has adversely affected the sector. The most pressing issues for the sector are fleet over-capacity, quota management and maintaining fish stocks in the UK fishing areas.

Development of employment

Table 1: Sectoral properties
  1999 2009
Number of companies in the sector

0

1,715

Source of company data

No data available for 1999

Financial Analysis Made Easy (FAME) database

     
Aggregate employment

13,374

10,256

Male employment

12,861

10,256

Female employment

513

0

Share of sectoral employment in %

1

1

Source of employment figures

UK Labour Force Survey

UK Labour Force Survey

Comment  
     
Aggregate employees

2,524

4,343

Male employees

2,289

4,343

Female employees

235

0

Share of sectoral employees in %

0

0

Comment  

2. The sector’s trade unions and employer associations

This section includes the following trade unions and employer associations:

(i) trade unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining (In line with the conceptual remarks outlined in the background information included in the accompanying excel spreadsheet, we understand sector-related collective bargaining as any kind of collective bargaining within the sector, i.e. single-employer bargaining as well as multi-employer bargaining. For the definition of single- and multi-employer bargaining, see 4.2)

There is no sector-related collective bargaining in the UK.

(ii) trade unions which are a sector-related member of the sector-related European Union Federation (i.e. ETF – European Transport Workers’ Federation)

No data available – Unite the Union are affiliated to the ETF, but have confirmed they have no membership in the UK sea fishing sector.

(iii) employer associations which are a party to sector-related collective bargaining

There is no sector-related collective bargaining in the UK.

(iv) employer associations (business associations) which are a sector-related member of the sector-related European Employer/Business Federations (i.e. EUROPECHE and COGECA – General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union)

The two employer associations for sea fishing in the UK are members of EUROPECHE:

  • National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO)
  • Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF)

2a Overview of the industrial relations landscape in the sector

Please include a brief overview of the IR landscape in the sector (3-5 sentences) – summarising the most important features of industrial relations structures in the sector (based on the fact sheets – but without going into detail.)

Please also report here, whether the crisis had an impact on the sector’s relevant social partner organisations (e.g. mergers, emergence of new interest organisations, impact on membership structure, important social partner activities/achievements in the sector during the crisis etc.).

There are two employers’ associations active in the sea fishing sector. The NFFO organises in England and Wales and the SFF organises in Scotland. The employers’ associations are involved in consultation and social dialogue at both a national and European level. Neither organisation was able to provide precise membership figures, but are considered to represent nearly all of the sector in terms of output. Estimates by the SFF indicate that, despite representing around 30% of the Scottish fleet (number of vessels) their members account for 90% of the Scottish fishing quota (around 65% of the entire UK quota).

2b Data on the trade unions

Table 2: Union Fact sheet
Affiliation to multinational organisations

ITF

Affiliation to European-level organisations

ETF

Affiliation to national-level organisations

TUC

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

no

Type of membership

voluntary

Consultation in sector-related matters

-

Union's domain with regard to sector

overlap

Domain overlap with other unions in sector

yes

Domain overlaps occur with the following unions in the sector

Potentially, Unite

   
"Active" union members total (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members (incl. non-employed), total

79,499

-

79,499

   
"Active" union members in the sector (in employment)

0

-

0

Union members in the sector, total (incl. non-employed)

0

-

0

Female membership as a % of total members

11%

Source of sectoral membership figures

Social Partner estimate

Union Density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral Density - active members

0.0%

-

0.0%

Sectoral Domain Density - active members

Very low: 0 - 9%

   
Union Density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral Density - total members

0.0%

-

0.0%

Sectoral Domain Density - total members

n.g.

   
Description of union's domain with regard to sector

RMT organises across the transportation sector and, historically, includes maritime workers

Representation of other groups than employees in the sector

Not targeted

2c Data on the employer associations

Table 3: Employers’ organisation Fact sheet)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

N/A

Affiliation to European-level organisations

Europeche

Affiliation to national-level organisations

MPA Fishing CoalitionUK Marine Stakeholders Forum

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

no

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Organisation's domain with regard to sector

congruence

Domain overlap with other organisations in sector

no

Domain overlaps occur with the following organisations

Theoretically the SFF, but the EOs represent regions of the UK

 

2010

Number of member companies, total

n.g.

   
Number of employees in member companies, total

n.g.

   
 

2010

Number of member companies in sector

n.g.

   
Number of employees in member companies in sector

n.g.

   
Source of membership figures

Source

Domain density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Sectoral density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Sectoral domain density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Domain density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral domain density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Description of organisation's domain with regard to sector

Sectionalism arranged on national representation with one EO for England and Wales and one for Scotland

Representation of particular subgroups of enterprises

no

Table 4: Employers’ organisation Fact sheet: Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

N/A

Affiliation to European-level organisations

Europeche

Affiliation to national-level organisations  
Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

no

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Organisation's domain with regard to sector

congruence

Domain overlap with other organisations in sector

no

Domain overlaps occur with the following organisations

Theoretically the NFFO, but the EOs represent regions of the UK

   
Number of member companies, total

n.g.

   
Number of employees in member companies, total

n.g.

   
   
Number of member companies in sector

n.g.

   
Number of employees in member companies in sector

n.g.

   
Source of membership figures

Source

Domain density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Sectoral density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Sectoral domain density - companies

Medium Low: 26-50%

   
Domain density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral domain density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Description of organisation's domain with regard to sector

Sectionalism arranged on national representation with one EO for England and Wales and one for Scotland

Representation of particular subgroups of enterprises

no

3. Inter-associational relationships

3a Inter-union relationships

3a.1 Please list all trade unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

No union data.

3a.2 Do rivalries and competition exist among the trade unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

No

3a.3 If yes, are certain trade unions excluded from these rights?

3b Inter-employer association relationships

3b.1 Please list all employer associations covered by this study whose domains overlap.

3b.2 Do rivalries and competition exist among the employer associations, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

No

3b.3 If yes, are certain employer associations excluded from these rights?

3b.4 Are there large companies or employer associations which refuse to recognise the trade unions and refuse to enter collective bargaining?

No

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Estimate the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage (i.e. the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector).

No data available

4.2. Estimate the relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered. (Multi-employer bargaining is defined as being conducted by an employer association on behalf of the employer side. In the case of single-employer bargaining, it is the company or its subunit(s) which is the party to the agreement. This includes the cases where two or more companies jointly negotiate an agreement.)

Does not apply in the UK context – employers’ associations report no collective bargaining at either level.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

No

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

Does not apply in the UK context

4.3. List all sector-related multi-employer wage agreements* valid in 2008 (or most recent data) including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered.

* Only wage agreements which are (re)negotiated on a reiterated basis.

Not applicable see 4.2

4.4. List the sector’s four most important collective agreements (single-employer or multi-employer agreements) valid in 2008 (or most recent data) including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered. Importance is measured in terms of employees covered.

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and trade unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

The employer associations, NFFO and SFF, are consulted and work with national government and agencies on sector-specific matters. Nationally these are with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and government ministers. NFFO and SFF also participate in dialogue with government authorities on safety and training issues; the Fishing Industry Safety Group and the EU Sea Fisheries Social Dialogue Committee at the European level.

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist? If yes, please indicate their domain of activity (for instance, health and safety, equal opportunities, labour market, social security and pensions etc.), their origin (agreement/statutory) and the interest organisations having representatives in them:

No.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6a Statutory regulations of representativeness for trade unions

6a.1 In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No

6a.2 In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No

6a.3 Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for trade union representativeness? If yes, please report the most recent electoral outcome for the sector.

No

6b Statutory regulations of representativeness for employer organisations

6b.1 In the case of the employer organisations, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which an organisation must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No

6b.2 In the case of the employer organisations, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which an organisation must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No

6b.3 Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations? If yes, please report the most recent outcome for the sector.

No

7. Commentary

The past ten years has seen a reduction in the UK sea fishing sector in terms of both employment and fleet size. Between 1999–2009 sectoral employment has fallen by nearly one quarter (23%) and from 2000–2009 the fleet size has fallen by 17%. The two employer associations, NFFO and SFF, are engaged in consultation and social dialogue for the sector at national and European levels. Following the early phases of the common fisheries policy, which was implemented in the 1970s, there has been a shift in the organisation of production and consequently employment relations. Large company-owned fleets, along with wage earning crews, typical before the 1970s, have been replaced with self-employed vessel owners and a share-fishing employment structure for fishermen. Consequently there is no collective bargaining coverage in the sector and no evidence of any union membership.

Alex Wilson, IRRU, University of Warwick

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