In the next few weeks, the Malta Flag Administration shall
complete the drafting of amendments to the Merchant Shipping
(Maritime Labour Convention) Rules (Legal Notice 145 of 2013) which
transpose the 2014 Amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour
Convention ( 'the ILO Amendments') issued by the
International Labour Organisation (ILO). This will ensure better
protection to seafarers of Maltese vessels (and their kin) in the
case of abandonment, death and long-term disability via the
introduction of an expeditious and effective financial security
system. The Maltese amendments shall enter into force on 18th
January 2017 as provided in the ILO Amendments.
The ILO Amendments propose the addition of 'Standard
A2.5.2' to the Maritime Labour Convention ( the 'MLC'),
paragraph 2 of which holds that a seafarer shall be deemed to have
been abandoned where, in violation of the requirements of the MLC
or the terms of the seafarers' employment agreement, the
shipowner fails to cover the cost of the seafarer's
repatriation, or the shipowner has not provided the seafarer with
the necessary maintenance and support, or he has otherwise
unilaterally severed ties with the seafarer including failure to
pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months. To
counteract the effects of abandonment, Standard A2.5.2 stipulates
that each Member State shall ensure the adoption of a financial
security system meeting the requirements of the Amendments for all
vessels flying its flag. This system shall provide direct access,
sufficient coverage and expedited financial assistance in one of
many forms, including social security schemes, insurance, national
funds or other similar arrangements. Choice of form shall be
determined by the Member State in question after consultation with
the shipowners' and seafarers' organisations concerned.
Moreover, every Member State shall require ships flying its flag to
carry on board a certificate or other documentary evidence of
financial security issued by the financial security provider.
The assistance provided by the financial security system shall
be granted promptly upon request by the seafarer, or his nominated
representative, and shall cover outstanding wages and other
entitlements under the employment agreement limited to four months
of any such outstanding wages or entitlements, all expenses
reasonably incurred by the seafarer including the cost of
repatriation, and all the essential needs of the seafarer including
but not limited to food and accommodation. The provision of
financial security shall not cease before the end of its period of
validity, except with prior notification of at least one month to
the competent authority of the flag State.
The implementation of the ILO Amendments will further underline
the ILO's commitment to guarantee fundamental principles and
rights at work, by enabling the persons concerned to claim freely
and on the basis of equality of opportunity, a fair share of the
wealth which they have helped to generate. The timely transposition
of the ILO Amendments into Maltese law ensures that Maltese
maritime law retains its position at the forefront of legal
developments as they occur. Further reports on this and other
maritime related matters will follow.
Co-author: Mr Luke Hili
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