Historically, seamen have been subject to an unsafe environment, where their mental and physical health were greatly affected. Although, the right to life has been a fundamental basic human right, it is only until recently where the seafarers' welfare has been in the spotlight of the public concern. Specifically, the ratification and enforcement of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (the “Convention”) has significantly improved the living and working conditions of the seafarers.

The Convention provides the minimum standard requirements for seafarers that work on a ship, including, inter alia, the conditions of employment, health, welfare, social security and medical care, compliance and enforcement as well as accommodation and food. With the evolution of today's world, the Convention, constantly evolves and new amendments are regularly introduced in order to ensure the validity of the Convention.

In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement of gender equality, the improvement of the living and working conditions of the seafarers has been the result of the discussions of stakeholders from the shipping industry. Specifically, eight amendments to the Convention have been agreed recently and if approved by the International Labour Conference they shall be entered into force by December 2024.

These amendments aim to ensure that the seafarers have appropriate personal protective equipment, free of charge good quality drinking water, prompt repatriation of abandoned seafarers, medical care in need of immediate assistance, social connectivity and internet access etc. Further to these amendments, various resolutions have been adopted in relation to bullying and harassment of the seafarers, including inter alia, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Undoubtedly, seafarers constitute a vital workforce which ensures the proper operation of an economic pillar in the world. Through strict regulations and/or conventions, such as the Convention, their welfare is secure, and one of the most important instruments for protecting and ensuring conformity with the Convention is the port state control (the “PSC”). The PSC officers are required to inspect the vessels and to make sure, including others, that the vessel meets the standards provided in the Convention.

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.