The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is an international convention developed under the International Labour Organization (ILO). It consolidates a number of existing labour conventions, while introducing modern standards relating to the working and living conditions of seafarers at sea. Over 90 per cent of the world’s trade is moved by ships in a truly international industry which should be regulated as such.
Australia is a signatory to the MLC which will enter into force internationally on 20 August 2013. Australia already has a good reputation for the treatment of seafarers so compliance and implementation means adjusting current law and practice to fit with our international obligations. The MLC provides standards for the world’s 1.4 million seafarers and creates a level playing field for the majority of shipowners and operators who do the right thing. It has been referred to as the fourth pillar of effective maritime regulation – alongside the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Australia’s new Navigation Act 2012 (Navigation Act) will come into force on 1 July 2013 and contains new provisions that point directly to the MLC. Some matters, however, will only be fully regulated on the entry into force of the MLC. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is currently finalising a new Marine Order, titled: Marine Order 11 (Living and Working conditions on vessels) 2012. This Marine Order will come into force in parallel with the Navigation Act. Marine Order 11 will contain two distinct parts. The first part addresses those components of the MLC that will be regulated on the entry into force of the Navigation Act. This will include specific regulations about:
- Accommodation and recreational requirements on board the ship
- Medical care and facilities on-board and ashore, including access to dental care
- Access to and use of sanitary and laundry facilities
- Provision of free supplies of food and water and their storage and handling
- The content of work agreements and their application (noting that vessel owners will be given until the entry into force of the MLC before these will be required)
- Regulations governing rest breaks for seafarers
- Repatriation arrangements
- The inspection regime and certification (noting that vessel owners will be given until the entry into force of the MLC before this will be required)
- Rights for younger seafarers
The second part will contain regulations that will come into effect on 20 August 2013:
- Seafarer recruitment and placement services
- Seafarer access to shore based welfare
- The on-board and on-shore complaints handling procedures
AMSA recently hosted two stakeholder information sessions, one in Perth and the other in Sydney. Both forums were well attended with over 150 stakeholders attending. The forum focused on the entry into force of the Navigation Act 2012, including new enforcement options and new definitions contained within that Act, and the practical application and implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.
Please see the Navigational Bill Explanatory Memorandum, Navigation (Consequential Amendments) Act 2012 and the Navigation (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012 – explanatory notes for further information. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority also hosted the Asia-Pacific - A Regional Dialogue on the Maritime Labour Convention conference from 3 – 6 May 2011.
AMSA is currently finalising forms and guidance material which will be published as soon as it is available.
Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance Part I (Australian General Register) (AMSA423)
Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance Part I (Australian International Shipping Register) (AMSA420)
Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance Part II (AMSA421)
Vessel to shore – medical exchange of information form (AMSA278)
Seafarers discharge form (AMSA143)
The following forms are samples of the requirements of Marine Order 11 – Living and Working Conditions on Vessels 2013. These forms may be used as a reference for the required content and incorporated into existing documentation.