The International Labor Organization voted to support amending an international labor convention by requiring shipowners to provide financial security to compensate seafarers abandoned at ports away from their native countries.
Representatives of seafarers, shipowners and governments approved the amendments to the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention without opposition at a Geneva meeting of the ILO. The amendments will be sent to the organization’s International Labor Convention for approval in May.
“The adoption of the Maritime Labor Convention in 2006 was an historical milestone that heralded a new era in the maritime sector,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “This latest step, building on international tripartite cooperation, is a very significant and inspiring example for other economic sectors.”
“When they come into force, these measures will ensure the welfare of the world’s seafarers and their families if the seafarers are abandoned, or if death or long-term disability occurs as the result of occupational injury, illness or hazard,” he said.
The amendments were developed over nearly a decade by a joint working group established by the ILO and the International Maritime Organization in 1998. They establish mandatory requirements that shipowners have financial security to cover abandonment, as well as death or long-term disability of seafarers due to occupational injury and hazard.
Under the new provisions, ships will be required to carry certificates or other documents to establish that financial security exists to protect seafarers working on board. Failure to provide this protection may mean that a ship can be detained in a port.
The 2006 ILO Maritime Labor Convention came into force on Aug. 20, 2013. Fifty-seven ILO member states representing more than 80 percent of the world’s global shipping tonnage have ratified the Convention. As of March, the ILO’s Abandonment of Seafarers Database listed 159 abandoned merchant ships, some dating back to 2006 and still unresolved.
The International Transport Workers Federation praised the action. “Abandonment is a particularly dark stain on the industry, and the new amendments are real and concrete relief for seafarers facing that dire predicament,” ITF President Paddy Crumlin said.