IMO has welcomed the landmark ratifications of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Maritime Labour Convention, which will bring the treaty into force in 12 months’ time, establishing minimum requirements for almost all aspects of working conditions for seafarers.
“This is great news for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers,” said Dr. Rosalie Balkin, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ILO’s sister UN agency, which has responsibility for maritime safety and security, the prevention of marine pollution from ships and seafarer training standards.
“Alongside IMO’s main international treaties covering safety and security, prevention of pollution and training of seafarers, the MLC Convention represents the ‘fourth pillar’ of maritime regulation covering international shipping, which transports more than 90 per cent of world trade, and on which we all rely” Dr. Balkin said, referring to IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the International Convention for the Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers (STCW). These three IMO treaties were first adopted in the 1970s and have each been ratified by more than 150 countries, representing more than 99 per cent of world merchant shipping.
The MLC Convention covers conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. Parties to the treaty must ensure that ships flying their flag meet the ‘decent work’ requirements set out in the Convention, and certify that those ships comply with the requirements relating to labour conditions. IMO’s STCW Convention was revised in 2010 and includes mirror provisions to the MLC requirements on such issues as hours of work and rest, where the two treaties overlap.
The recent ratification of the MLC by the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Philippines fulfils the requirement that at least 30 ILO member countries ratify the Convention. The other requirement - that ratifying countries represent 33 per cent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage - was met in 2009. The 30 countries represent nearly 60 per cent of the shipping tonnage. This means that seafarers working on more than 50 per cent of the world’s international shipping will be covered by the new ILO Convention.
IMO and ILO co-operate on issues which come under the remit of both Organizations, insofar as they relate to seafarers, and have established joint ILO/IMO ad-hoc expert working groups on issues such as on hours of work and rest, fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident, and liability and compensation regarding claims for death, personal injury and abandonment of seafarers.