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

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



About
Country:
Greece
Author:
Elena Kousta
Institution:

The Greek fishing fleet has decreased since 2000, after the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. More than 90% of the fleet comprise small-scale coastal fishing vessels. There are no collective agreements concluded in the sea fisheries’ sector in Greece – except for employment contracts concluded with Egyptian workers, which must be as favourable as the National Collective Employment Agreement. Egyptian workers need this contract in order to get a residence permit, as well as to be registered with the Agricultural Insurance Organization. Greek workers, however, do not enter into collective agreements and their pay is agreed by common consent of the fishermen.

Sectoral properties

Economic background

Greek fishing takes place in coastal waters, middle-waters and the deep-sea. It is commercial and recreational. Small-scale coastal fisheries employ the most people.

Laws governing employment in fishing are not absolutely clear, and there are no expressly stated requirements to be fulfilled by someone who wants to fish commercially.

The law 3874/2010 Register of Farmers and Agricultural Undertakings which replaced law 2332/1995, and article 1 of law 2520/1997, states:

An adult employed in fishery (sea fishery, inland fishery, sponge fishing, shell fishing, aquaculture) is considered as a professional farmer provided that such person:

a. is the owner, joint owner, renter or participates in any way whatsoever in the exploitation of a commercial fishing vessel, except for deep-sea fishing vessels, or engages in aquaculture as the owner or tenant of an aquaculture holding for at least 30% of his/her total annual work time and earns from such employment at least 35% of his/her annual income and is the owner of a personal commercial fishing permit.

b. As owner, joint owner or renter of a commercial fishing vessel refuels his/her vessel with bunker fuel at least once every three years.

c. Is insured with the Agricultural Insurance Organization (ΟGΑ) or the Mariners’ Retirement Fund (ΝΑΤ), provided that he/she has been employed in commercial fishing vessels at least for a five-year period, or the Social Security Fund (ΙΚΑ), provided that he/she has been employed in commercial fishing vessels since 2003 at least.

According to the European Union Fishing Fleet Register, in 2005 the Greek commercial fishing fleet consisted of 18,269 vessels, having a total gross tonnage of 93,387 GT and engine power of 537,560 kW, with an average age of 26 years.

Of this:

  • 16,818 (92.06 %) were small-scale coastal fishing vessels with an overall length of under 12m;
  • 425 (2.33%) were netters-longliners over 12m in length;
  • 367 vessels were shore seines;
  • 302 (1.65%) were purse seines;
  • 330 (1.81%) were trawlers;
  • only 27 vessels (0.15%) operated in international waters.

In 2006, the Greek fleet consisted, according to Eurostat data, of 17,843 fishing vessels with a total gross tonnage of 92,792 GT, a total horsepower equal to 530.830 kW and an average age of 24.5 years. From 2000 to 2006 the number of vessels had fallen by 9.2%, the tonnage by 13.6% and the horsepower by 14.8%.

The downward trend of the fleet continued in 2007, with the total number of vessels at 17,568; and again in 2008 when it fell to 17,843. This trend is expected to continue after the implementation of Regulation (EC) 1967/2006 on the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean, given that the Greek fleet consists mostly of small, coastal-fishing vessels that are not properly equipped.

These structural measures, and a decrease in fish stocks have led not only to a decrease in numbers of boats, but also a degradation in terms of the fleet’s quality, given that the vessels’ average tonnage and horsepower has decreased.

Despite the fact that the Greek fleet has more vessels than any other in the European Union, in terms of tonnage it corresponds to approximately only 4.6% of the total in the European Union.

The main part of the fishing fleet consists of old, low-capacity and low-horsepower vessels which fish inshore around the islands and along the extensive mainland coast, as well as certain areas of the Mediterranean.

The sea fisheries in the Mediterranean is multi-species and multi-catch and, for the most part, is carried out by traditional methods low in efficiency and capital return. As a result of developments in fisheries technology, such as improved fisheries gear, fishing stocks have shown signs of depletion over the last 20 years.

A recent study, Developments in the Sector of Fishery Economics, 2010, conducted by the Pan-Hellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives Associations (PASEGES) reveals a downward trend in the number of small coastal-fishing vessels and a decrease in employment due to perennial problems.

Since 2000, the Greek fishing fleet has decreased, in the context of the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular after its reform in 2002, when the management of the fishing sector moved in the direction of achieving sustainability and a sustainable balance between the fishing effort and the fish stocks. Between 2000–2004, when the approval of aid for the replacement of vessels was completed, the total number of vessels was reduced by 7.8%, the power (kW) by 13.5% and the tonnage (GT) by 12.7%. The highest reduction rates are recorded in small vessels (of an overall length less than 12 metres).

Fewer young people want to take up the trade, because of the:

  • hard conditions (both in terms of work and environment);
  • low horsepower of the engines;
  • limited business scope;
  • absence of infrastructures;
  • age of the vessels;
  • lack of training.

Consequently, the average age of those employed in the sector has been steadily going up. On the other hand, the seasonal employment (about 27.5%) of foreign workers in trawlers and purse seines is flourishing.

This has all led to Greece importing more fish than it exports. In 2006 this imbalance stood at 92,090 tons, worth €59 million. However, the imports – exports ratio has improved significantly, particularly with respect to the fishing products’ value. Most imports come from third countries, while most exports are destined for EU Member States.

Development of employment

Table 1: Sectoral properties
  2008 2009
Number of companies in the sector

899

1,076

Source of company data

ELSTAT

ELSTAT

Aggregate employment

11,127

12,338

Male employment

10,000

11,200

Female employment

1,127

1,138

Share of sectoral employment in %

0

0

Source of employment figures

ELSTAT (National Statistical Authority)

ELSTAT

Comment

if employment is taken from another source than the one provided, please provide your reasons, referring to meta-data.

Aggregate employees

3,451

3,705

Male employees

2,500

2,700

Female employees

951

1,005

Share of sectoral employees in %

0

0

Comment

if employee figures are taken from another source than the one provided, please provide your reasons, referring to meta-data.

Employment

Collective employment agreements are not concluded in the Greek sea fisheries’ sector. The only exception is the employment contract for seasonal workers, pursuant to Law 3386/2005 and the Intergovernmental Agreement that Greece has concluded with Egypt. Seasonal employment accounts for about 27.5% of total employment in the fisheries sector and an Egyptian fisherman has to have an employment contract in order to be granted a residence permit as well as to be registered with the Agricultural Insurance Organization. This contract cannot be less favourable to workers than the National Collective Employment Agreement. As for Greek workers, their financial agreements are entered into by common acceptance of the fisherrmen.

Total employment in all three fisheries sectors was 38,150 persons in 2005, of which, 31,000 were employed in the catch fisheries sector, 6,600 in aquaculture and 2,650 in the fisheries’ processing sector. With the inclusion of seasonal employment, the total level of employment reached 40,253. At this point, it should be noted that approximately 50% of people engaged in fishing, were working on vessels of less than 20hp (Tzanatosa et al., 2005). It has also been estimated that:

  • trawlers employ about six people
  • purse seines employ about nine;
  • coastal vessels employ one or two;
  • shore seines employ about three;
  • the average number of dependents is two per worker;
  • the average age of a fishermen is 42;
  • older fishermen work mostly in small-scale and coastal fishing;
  • women crew 3% of vessels (one woman per vessel);
  • women have increasingly begun to own vessels.

Fishermen who own a vessel go fishing with one other person on average, with 63.8% of those being members of his family and, as a rule (71.8%), are the same every time.

Fishermen are nearly all insured, according to the Fishery Operational Programme 2007–2013.

The Fishery Operational Programme 2007–2013 sets out the most pressing problems facing people employed in Greece’s sea fisheries:

  • the working and sanitary conditions are very hard in middle-water and coastal fishing;
  • the employment on fishing vessels has a strongly seasonal character;
  • working time is not fixed;
  • a significant number of workers are on islands or remote regions.
  • the average age of the workers is over 40;
  • there is a lack of training.

Consequently, the role of women in fishing becomes very difficult, and, as a result, their presence is limited at all the sector’s levels. Today, there are a number of women engaging mainly in support work, such as rigging nets, baiting longlines, acting as drivers for the transport of fish products, selling fish products and managing fishery complexes. The number of women actually fishing, crewing, or owning a boat is smaller.

People working in acquaculture sector, especially those in production plants and fish hatcheries, face poor and dangerous conditions, such as working in cages, high levels of humidity, problems arising from bad weather and long working hours. Again, many are employed in islands and remote regions.

This results in low numbers of women being employed in production plants, whereas the rate of female employment in administration services and packing plants is higher. The lack of training and education results in seasonal, rather than permanent employment, and in low wages. There is also a lack of female entrepreneurship.

However, in the processing sector, the participation of women is important, compared with the situation in the past decades, and contributes essentially to the implementation of business plans.

Equal, or even greater opportunities than for men, are given to women to try to encourage their balanced participation in the processing sector.

Moreover the seasonal uncertainty, about how much fish will be caught and processed, offers the chance of extra employment and income to unskilled women in local communities.

From 2000–2005, there was an overall decrease in employment. This reduction was particularly noted in the catch fisheries sector and resulted directly from the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. It is worth noting that employment in the fisheries sector in Greece ranks fifth out of 25 member states in the European Union, following Spain, France, Italy and the UK.

The profile of the typical Greek small-scale fisherman is defined (Tzanatos a et al., 2003) as fishing for 209.2 days a year and following a seasonal pattern (13 days per month on average in winter, 18 days on average per month in spring and autumn, and 20 days per month in summer).

Insurance

Fishermen, who like farmers earn at least 50% of their income from their employment, are obliged to be insured by the Agricultural Insurance Organization (OGA). Alien workers in this sector are also insured at OGA.

Law 1140/81 allows only fishermen on large fishing vessels to be insured with the Greek Merchant Seamen's Pension Fund (ΝΑΤ). Only those workers who have over 3,000 days of insurance coverage for work in fishery remain insured with the Social Insurance Institute (ΙΚΑ) (article 7 of law 3232/04, as replaced by article 52 of law 3518/06)

  • Fishermen who are signed on fishing vessels are insured at ΝΑΤ.

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)

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

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

(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)

Sector organisation

The organisation of professional fishermen, beyond first-level trade unions, developed late, unlike other professional sectors. Both the country’s geomorphology, which creates small and remote centres of concentration of coastal fishermen, and the nature of the trade, with its long working hours and direct dependence on individual effort and competition have played an important part in this.

The first trade unions in the sector were established in the late 1960s and their membership increased during the 1970s. Most of today’s fishermen registered with their trade unions during the 1980s.

Today, the internal structure is covered by trade unions, federations and confederations.

There are also organisations covering middle-water fishing, purse seiners and trawlers.

Hellenic Fishermen Confederation

The President of the Hellenic Fishermen Confederation (HFC) Dimitris Kotsorgios says there are approximately 15,000 owners of commercial fishing vessels who also work on their vessels, and that there are 15,000–17,000 holders of personal professional licences. The fishery sector in Greece is in fact shrinking, due to the monetary incentives granted to fishermen in order for them to retire, on the pretext of protecting resources, which, however, does not apply to industrial fishing. When we refer to workers, we also mean owners of fishing vessels and crew members, because they all work onboard.

The Hellenic Fishermen Confederation covers all 11 federations of fishermen’s trade unions, existing under law 2538/97. Trade union density has been increasing recently, due to the various problems, and also due to the benefits deriving from the interventions of HFC.

The percentage of women employed in the sector is not known. However, given that the family businesses account for 70%–80% of the fishing industry, one may conclude that women work with their spouses.

The Hellenic Fishermen Confederation does not belong to a higher trade-union organisation at national level, given that it is the supreme third-level trade-union organisation of fishermen pursuant to laws 1361/83 and 2538/97.

HFC is not able to enter into collective agreements and such an issue has not been raised so far. Fishermen are insured at OGA and the financial agreements are entered into by common acceptance of the fishermen.

Mr Kotsorgios says the Greek State does consult the HFC, although not in any satisfactory or substantial way, given that State support is directed mostly at industrial fishing, which is responsible for the depletion of the marine environment, and not to small-scale coastal fishing, which, according to all the reports, should enjoy special treatment.

Panhellenic Middle Range Union of Shipowners

The President of the Panhellenic Middle Range Union of Shipowners (PEPMA) Giannis Mpountoukos says PEPMA is a national association, established in 1997 in order to ensure the objective representation of the owners of Middle-water Fishery vessels (trawlers and purse seiners).

PEPMA represents the owners of about 400 vessels, out of a total number of 700 trawlers and purse seiners.

The directly employed fishermen – members of the Union number 8,000, while there are approximately 2,000 employed joint owners (such as fathers and siblings). (All the figures are approximate, as they vary from year to year).

Mr Mpountoukos says the sector has slightly diminished in size, due to the absence of a fishery policy at State level.

The Greek operative legislation (Law 1361/83 about Agricultural Trade Unions) does not enable those working in the middle-water fishery to form a second-level organisation, due to the relatively small number of members and, by extension, of trade unions, throughout Greece, although it produces 85% of the fishing products.

PEPMA, a member of EUROPECHE and which holds the vice-presidency, participates in the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) which was established by the European Commission. Additionally, it is a founding member of MEDISAMAK, the Mediterranean Fishery Association, that was established by the European Commission, being the national representative of Greece in that organisation. It is also a founding member of RAC (Regional Advisory Council) for the Mediterranean.

The problems in the fishery sector, according to PEPMA’s President, are the continual increase in operating expenses, in combination with the low sale prices of the fish products that are caused, not by the financial crisis, but by the large-scale imports of fish products of questionable quality, either from third countries or from EU countries, which are then often promoted as Greek, given that state control is non-existent. He also cites the perennial problems with the Agricultural Insurance Organization.

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.).

See above

2b Data on the trade unions

No tabulated data given. See above

2c Data on the employer associations

Table 2: Employers’ organisation Fact sheet: Panhellenic Middle Range Union of Shipowners
Affiliation to multinational organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Affiliation to European-level organisations

1. The Association of National Organisations of Fishery Enterprises in the European Union (EUROPECHE), 2. The Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA), 3. The Mediterranean Fishery Association (MEDISAMAK), 4. The Regional Advisory Council for the Mediterranean (RAC)

Affiliation to national-level organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

no

Consultation in sector-related matters

No data here-

Type of membership

n.g.

Organisation's domain with regard to sector

sectionalism

Domain overlap with other organisations in sector

no

Domain overlaps occur with the following organisations

n.g.

  2010
Number of member companies, total

400

-

400

Number of employees in member companies, total

10,000

-

10,000

 

2010

Number of member companies in sector

400

-

400

Number of employees in member companies in sector

10,000

-

10,000

Source of membership figures

Social Partner estimate

Domain density - companies

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral density - companies

Rough estimate:

   
Sectoral domain density - companies

Rough estimate:

   
       
Domain density - employees

Medium High: 51-75%

   
Sectoral density - employees

55,6%

-

56,0%

Sectoral domain density - employees

Rough estimate:

   
Description of organisation's domain with regard to sector

Please describe the organisation's domain

Representation of particular subgroups of enterprises

Panhellenic Middle Range Union of Shipowners

3. Inter-associational relationships

3a Inter-union relationships

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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

No answer available. See abstract.

3b Inter-employer association relationships

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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.)

No answer available. See abstract.

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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

No answer available. See abstract.

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.

No answer available. See abstract.

No data given

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.

No answer available. See abstract.

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?

No answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

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 answer available. See abstract.

7. Commentary

Collective employment agreements are not concluded in the Greek sea fisheries’ sector. The only exception is the employment contract for seasonal workers, pursuant to Law 3386/2005 and the Intergovernmental Agreement that Greece has concluded with Egypt. Seasonal employment accounts for about 27.5% of total employment in the fisheries sector and an Egyptian fisherman has to have an employment contract in order to be granted a residence permit as well as to be registered with the Agricultural Insurance Organization. This contract cannot be less favourable to workers than the National Collective Employment Agreement The research we conducted showed that the Pan-Hellenic Middle Range Union of Shipowners (PEPMA) is a member of Europeche (Association of National Organizations of Fishery Enterprises in the European Union), ΑCFA (Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture), and RAC (Regional Advisory Council), as well as national representative of Greece at Medisamak (Association promoting euro-med fisheries).

Elena Kousta, Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)

Bibliography

Tzanatosa, E., Dimitriou b, E., Katselis c, G., Georgiadis a, M., and Koutsikopoulos a, C. (2003) Composition, temporal dynamics and regional characteristics of small-scale fisheries in Greece,

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