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MLC 2006 - A Seafarers Perspective

01 Sep 2013 by Amy Beavers

Ask Amy:

Maritime Labour Convention 2006:
The Seafarer’s Perspective


To Review: When?

The MLC will come into force on 20 August 2013. Basically NOW!


To Review: What & Why?

The International Labour Organization (ILO's) Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers.  An estimated 90% of world trade is carried on ships.  Seafarers are essential to international trade and the international economic and trade system.  The new labour standard consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards related to the Maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years. 

The Convention sets out to protect seafarers' rights to decent conditions of work on a wide range of subjects, and aims to be globally applicable, easily understandable, readily updatable and uniformly enforced. The decision by the ILO to create this new major Maritime Labour Convention was the result of a tripartite resolution in 2001 by the international seafarers’ and ship owners’ organizations, also supported by governments.  They pointed out that the shipping industry is “the world’s first genuinely global industry” which “requires an international regulatory response of an appropriate kind – global standards applicable to the entire industry.” 


To Review: Who?

All seafarers internationally will be protected by the MLC. All people who work on boats/ships are considered seafarers. I have been told that domestic non STCW / inland mariners within the United States are exempt from MLC as well as the domestic regulations are considered significantly equivalent forms of protection and already require decent work conditions.


There are currently 43 countries who have ratified the MLC and will be issuing each vessel a certificate of compliance within the MLC after an extensive inspection. When they travel to other countries who have ratified the convention they will be scrutinized to a lesser degree than vessels from countries who have not ratified the convention.


To Review: Yachts too?

Many yachts are considered commercially operated and are required to comply with all applicable international conventions, such as STCW, etc. Certain flags may exempt private yachts from complying and there has been some discussion about what constitutes a commercial charter yacht.  Some flags believe that even one charter makes a vessel commercial and others feel that you must charter more than half of the time to be a charter vessel.


Long story short all crewmembers should familiarize themselves with the regulations and how they may impact their vessel’s procedures.






To Review: How does the ILO plan for this code to help the seafarer?

  • 4th pillar      of quality industry regulations (with SOLAS, STCW, MARPOL)
  • A      comprehensive set of basic maritime labour principles and rights
  • Simplification      of international requirements
  • A strong      enforcement regime, backed by a certification system
  • Verifiable      compliance with basic minimum employment and social requirements
  • Application      to all ships including those of non-ratifying Members
  • Improved      working and living conditions for seafarers
  • A more      secure and responsible maritime workforce
  • A more      socially responsible shipping industry
  • Improved      social dialogue at all levels
  • Seafarers      better informed of their rights and remedies
  • Improved      supervision at all levels: the ship, the company, the flag state, the port      state, & the ILO
  • Global and      uniform compliance and verification
  • Improved possibilities      of keeping labour conditions up to date
  • Permanent      review of maritime labour situation
  • Positive      impact on safety at sea
  • Positive      impact on the protection of the environment

To Review: Things in the code that are gaining attention from the industry?

1)      Welfare & social security aspects of the convention

2)      Berthing requirements

3)      Medical care

4)      Crew complaint procedures


To Review: Past Crew Complaints that led in part to the codes development?

1)      Having to pay to obtain a job

2)      Non-payment of wages

3)      Abandonment

4)      Denial of medical care

5)      Restrictions and/or denial of shore leave

6)      Fatigue from working too many hours

7)      Blacklisting

8)      Denial of repatriation


To Review: Where can captains and managers learn about how to implement and comply with this new set of regulations?

Training is available to help captains, managers and owners learn how to implement this new code on their vessels and in their management practices.


MPT is offering a basic course to familiarize ALL crew members and also a slightly longer course for the management personnel and captains/officers.


Some portions of this report excerpted from ILO website and the AMSA website.