The Maritime Labour Convention, an International Labour Organization agreement established in 2006 to embody all existing global maritime labor conventions and recommendations, is set to enter into force on Aug. 20.
When the MLC enters into force, it will become binding international law for the first 30 countries with registered ratifications as of Aug. 20, 2012. For all other countries that have ratified after that date, it will enter into force 12 months after their ratifications were registered.
The convention pertains to all commercially operated ships of 500 tons gross tonnage or more that fly the flag of any of the countries with effective ratifications. Those ships will be required to be in compliance with the convention, including areas such as minimum age, seafarers’ employment agreements, hours of work or rest, payment of wages, onboard medical care, the use of licensed private recruitment and placement services, accommodation, food and catering, health and safety protection and accident prevention.
Germany recently became the 43rd ILO member state and the 17th European country to ratify the convention, which constitutes the fourth pillar of the international maritime legal regime, in addition to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea; the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers; and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Shis.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation has welcomed the coming into force of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, saying it recognizes the MLC as the first ever “true bill of rights for those working at sea” and is committed to monitoring and assisting its implementation and persuading more countries to ratify it.
“The MLC represents a significant leap forward in the global trade union campaign to improve the labor rights and labor standards of seafarers,” said Paddy Crumlin, ITF president, in a written statement. “It is a true watershed in international shipping, which adds the pillar of workers’ rights to existing standards of safety, security and crew standards.”
Stephen Cotton, ITF acting general secretary, added: “We now have a bill of rights for seafarers – including those on international cruise ships – that sets out the right to a safe and secure workplace; fair terms of employment; decent living and working conditions; access to medical care, health protection and welfare; and to freedom of association.”
ITF released a video of Crumlin and Cotton discussing the significance and future of the MLC: