On the 25th of November 2016, Legal Notice 390 of 2016 titled
the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Amendment)
Rules 2016 (hereinafter 'the Amendment Rules'), was
published in the Government Gazette. The Amendment Rules are to be
read and construed as forming part of Legal Notice 145 of 2013 i.e.
the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Rules
(hereinafter 'the Rules'), and successfully transpose into
Maltese law the 2014 Amendments to the Code of the Maritime
Labour Convention ('the ILO Amendments') issued by the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The Amendment Rules come into force on the 18th January 2017,
and 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, which 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. The ILO Amendments hold that
choice of form shall be determined by the member state in question
after consultation with the shipowners' and seafarers'
Prior to the passing of ILO Amendments, the aforementioned
protection that is being extended to seafarers (in cases of
abandonment, death and long-term disability) was absent from the
Maritime Labour Convention (hereafter referred to as the
'MLC'). This lacuna has now been addressed
with the ILO Amendments that have been passed as 'Standard
A2.5.2' to the MLC. The Amendment Rules transpose Standard
A2.5.2 into Maltese law via the addition of Article 74A to the
Rules, entitled 'Financial Security'. This new addition
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
the shipowner has not provided the seafarer with the necessary
maintenance and support, or
the shipowner has otherwise unilaterally severed ties with the
seafarer and has failed to pay contractual wages for a period of at
least two months.
The Malta Flag Administration 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.
This shall be made available to the seafarers.
The assistance provided by the financial security system shall
be granted promptly upon request by the seafarer, and shall
outstanding wages and other entitlements under the employment
agreement limited to a period of four months,
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, accommodation and necessary medical care.
The provision of financial security shall not cease before the
end of its period of validity, unless the financial security
provider provides the Registrar General with prior notice of at
least 30 days.
The Amendment Rules further introduce Article 113A of the Rules
dealing with shipowners' liability. This article holds that
financial security shall assure compensation for contractual claims
in accordance with the following minimum requirements:
Where set out in the seafarer's employment agreement, the
contractual compensation shall be paid in full and without
There shall be no pressure to accept a payment which is less
than the contractual amount in question
Where the contractual compensation emanates from the suffering
of a long-term disability of a seafarer which makes it difficult to
assess the full compensation to which the seafarer may be entitled,
an interim payment or payments shall be made to the seafarer so as
to avoid undue hardship.
In light of what has been discussed, 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. By transposing the ILO Amendments into Maltese law,
Malta has underlined its commitment towards all matters relating to
the international maritime sphere; further ensuring its presence at
the forefront of future developments.
Co-author: Mr Luke Hili
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.
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