The Fair Transport Mark proposal originally came about because Nautilus and its Swedish counterpart, the transport union SEKO, had both noticed that produce labelled as 'fair trade' was sometimes being carried on vessels which offered a decidedly unfair deal to their crews.
In particular, they recorded some shocking examples of fair trade sugar being carried on vessels that were detained by port state control for safety deficiencies and insanitary crew accommodation. This is the kind of practice that Fair Transport is seeking to end – but the proposal for the scheme goes further.
The Fair Transport Mark scheme would not be limited to vessels carrying fair trade produce; it would be a marker of reputability for any shipping company on the world's oceans, lakes, rivers and canals. In time, the Fair Transport Mark would become a key indicator of a company's commitment to corporate social responsibility.
The way the scheme would work would mirror the Fairtrade Foundation, which was founded by a consortium of charities to promote the ethical treatment of developing-world producers. In the case of Fair Transport, shipowners and maritime unions would come together to set up a foundation tasked with administering the Fair Transport scheme.
The foundation would award the Fair Transport Mark to shipping companies which adhered to the following internationally-recognised crew welfare standards:
- they must use vessels flagged with countries that have ratified the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006
- all their vessels must have national collective agreements for their crew, or, for flag-of-convenience vessels, agreements approved by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)
- none of their vessels can have been kept in detention by Port State Control or other national authority control due to poor sanitary or humanitarian standards.
These standards are well-understood within the industry. It is straightforward to check whether they have been met, so the foundation administering the Fair Transport scheme would not need to establish a verification process from scratch.