UK: Landmark Maritime Labour Convention Will Come Into Force In 2013

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) is a single, consolidated convention that sets out seafarers' rights to decent working conditions and helps to create fair conditions of competition for shipowners. The MLC brings together international standards, updates all the existing maritime labour instruments and, for the first time, creates a system of certification and inspection to enforce those standards.

The MLC required 30 countries representing 33% of world tonnage to achieve the necessary ratification. Both thresholds have now been met and the MLC will come into force in August 2013. The 30 countries that have currently ratified the MLC represent nearly 60 percent of the world's shipping tonnage. This figure will grow as more countries are expected to ratify the MLC in the coming months. The UK expect to be in a position to ratify the MLC in early 2013.

Aims of the MLC

The MLC will provide a globally applicable standard setting out working conditions for seafarers operating under any national flag outside inland waters. It is intended to be easily understandable, to avoid previous problems of excessive detail in earlier ILO conventions that made ratification difficult. It is also intended that the MLC be easy to update, to keep pace with changing industry conditions and to ensure that, unlike previous conventions, it continues to reflect contemporary working conditions on ships. Finally, the MLC contains greater powers of enforcement and a compliance system to eliminate substandard working terms and conditions.

The MLC will ensure that seafarers are guaranteed equal and acceptable conditions no matter which flag they sail under. It aims to create a level playing field and contains a number of principles such as non discrimination on the basis of a seafarer's race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, or social origin. It also seeks to provide new rights to seafarers with respect to employment benefits, health and safety and accommodation.

The MLC contains a "no more favourable treatment" clause, which means that, once the MLC is in force, no advantage will be gained by registering with a non-ratifying state. Indeed it is highly likely that such ships will, given the fact they will not possess authenticated documentation required by the MLC, face greater scrutiny from Port State Control inspectors who will police MLC compliance. The MLC will therefore seek to eliminate the current situation in which seafarers on ships flying the flags of countries that do not exercise effective control over them are often subject to conditions which are unjust and which jeopardise their health and safety and the safety of the ships. The current situation means that shipowners and flag states that do provide decent conditions on board are subject to unfair competition from less scrupulous shipowners who are able to undercut them as a result of operating substandard ships. The MLC aims to eradicate circumstances which allow substandard ships to operate in this way.

The MLC itself is divided into five Titles:

Title 1: Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship.

Title 2: Conditions of employment.

Title 3: Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering.

Title 4: Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.

Title 5: Compliance and enforcement.

Each title is divided into two sections as follows: (i) the first section sets out articles containing broad principles and obligations, compliance with which is mandatory; and (ii) the second section is then divided into two parts: A and B, with A setting out mandatory regulations and standards each signatory state must implement; and B setting out non-mandatory guidelines on how Part A should be interpreted and implemented. Although the guidelines in part B are not mandatory they cannot be disregarded because failure to follow the guidelines will result in the signatory state being required to justify itself to the ILO's monitoring committee.

Protection for seafarers

Of the estimated 1.2 million people who work on ships around the world, many have, until now, not been clearly classified as "seafarers". Those who work on board ships, but who are not involved with navigation or operation of the ship, such as personnel on board passenger ships, have generally been excluded from the definition of "seafarer". This will change under the MLC.

Under the MLC, seafarers are defined as any persons who are employed or engaged or work in any capacity on board ships covered by the MLC. These ships include all ships ordinarily engaged in commercial activities (including yachts), other than ships which navigate exclusively in inland waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply, and ships engaged in fishing or similar pursuits or ships of traditional build such as dhows or junks.

In terms of the actual protections afforded to seafarers, the MLC contains a number of key provisions relating to working conditions and pay:

  • A requirement for an employment contract guaranteeing decent on-board conditions, to be signed by the shipowner
  • On board complaints procedure
  • Wages to be paid monthly, in full, and in accordance with the employment contract
  • A 14 hour work limit in any 24 hours to be imposed, with a maximum 72 hour limit in any seven day period
  • Leave entitlement
  • The shipowner must pay to repatriate seafarers in case of injury, illness, shipwreck, insolvency or the sale of the ship
  • There are specific requirements for on-board conditions, including minimum room sizes, sanitary facilities, hospital accommodation and adequate ventilation, lighting and heating. The majority of these provisions apply to new builds once the MLC comes into force
  • The seafarer must have access to prompt medical care on board and in port

The MLC will potentially have a huge impact on market practice. Article III of Title 1 lays down a fundamental aim of the MLC as being "the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.' The article sets out to address the issue of equal pay for equal work. Part B Guideline B2.2.2.4 (a) states that 'national law and regulations adopted after consulting the representative ship-owners' and seafarers' organisations or as appropriate.......should take into account the following principles: (a) equal remuneration for work of equal value should apply to all seafarers employed on the same ship without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, or social origin.' A common market practice is to apply pay scales dependant on an individual's country of recruitment or origin. Such a practice would be in breach of the MLC which obliges signatory states to introduce national laws prohibiting such practices.

Inspection and Detention

Once the MLC is in force, ships of all countries, whether their flag state has ratified the MLC or not, will be subject to inspection in any country that has ratified. On inspection by Port State Control, shipowners will have to produce a "Maritime Labour Certificate" and a "Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance" authorised by their flag state. The Declaration must show the shipowners' plans for ensuring that the provisions of the MLC will be met during the voyage, meaning that masters will have to keep records demonstrating that they are complying with the MLC on an ongoing basis.

In addition to routine inspections, Port State Control will be obliged to carry out detailed inspections where a breach of the convention is identified or where a complaint is made by a crew member. This can lead to notification to seafarers organisations ashore and in cases of a serious breach of the convention, detention of the vessel.

To avoid such disruption, it will be vitally important that seafarers' issues are dealt with on board the vessel and do not give cause to raise complaints ashore. The effectiveness of the complaints procedure on board the vessel will be critical in achieving this.

Comment

The MLC represents a revolutionary change to the regulation of employment terms and working conditions for seafarers and shipowners should start taking steps now to ensure that they are not taken by surprise when the MLC comes into force. Managers, Owners and Charterers and their Insurers are also potentially affected, particularly if the inspection or detention of a vessel gives rise to claims for delay or damage to cargo.

Initial documentary reviews should include:

  • Amending charterparties to ensure compliance by owners and redress in the event of failure
  • Drafting on-board complaint and other procedures
  • Drafting new, compliant employment contracts
  • Amending Crew Management Agreements

In addition to document reviews, Masters and senior officers will need to be trained in ensuring that the vessel is compliant with the MLC including dealing with crew complaints and monitoring working-time limits.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Sara Khoja
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.