Worker Driven Social Responsibility

A ground-breaking new programme which seeks to build worker-driven, market-enforced mechanisms and systems to improve working conditions in the UK fishing industry is being piloted in Scotland. The project will involve collaboration among several key stakeholders including vessel owners, human rights experts, buyers and local community organisations.

What is WSR

Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) is an exciting model for tackling labour abuse and exploitation in corporate supply chains, with more than a decade of proven results in industries ranging from agriculture to textiles. The model is designed to address the power imbalances that exist between workers and employers, as well as between buyers and suppliers, imbalances that drive many of the abuses found at the base of global supply chains today.

A WSR pilot for UK fishing

The WSR for UK fishing was officially launched as a pilot programme, via a coalition of labour rights organisations, in January 2024. It will run as a partnership between Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Fair Food Program (FFP), in consultation with Dr. Jess Sparks, Assistant Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

The project has been awarded $300k of funding from Humanity United and the Freedom Fund, US based philanthropic donors focused on human rights. The funding award will support an initial two-year pilot, and will begin with outreach work to migrant fishers and active engagement with the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA) in Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

How does the WSR work

The features of a WSR programme are:

  • Worker-drafted Code of Conduct based on workers’ experiences and priorities.
  • Comprehensive worker-to-worker education
  • 24-hour complaint mechanism answered by multilingual investigators with prompt investigations and resolutions, and confidentiality protection.
  • In-depth audits – Monitoring is non-adversarial, confidential, and collaborative.
  • Fair Food Premium employers in good standing maintain purchasing preference and premium payments.
  • Market consequences – Employers suspended from the Programme can no longer sell to the FFP’s participating buyers.


SEA Alliance engagement

The SEA Alliance has not entered an official partnership or collaboration with the project, however, we continue to be interested in the development of this pilot focused on addressing worker exploitation at a vessel-level. The SEA Alliance also continues to facilitate a platform for interested member companies to engage with the pilot team. 

To find out more

To find out more about the programme and how it is progressing please contact at FLEX

To discuss SEA Alliance engagement please contact

Europe’s first Worker-Driven Social Responsibility initiative launches pilot to fight the exploitation of workers at sea. 9 January 2024.

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