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International Labour Organization: Maritime Labour Convention in Force

(Aug. 21, 2013) The Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 came into force on August 20, 2013, having been ratified by 47 countries. (MLC – Maritime Labour Convention 2006, NORMLEX (International Labour Organization (ILO) website); Ratifications of MLC – Maritime Labour Convention 2006, NORMLEX (last visited Aug. 16, 2013).) The ILO states that the agreement “establishes minimum working and living standards for all seafarers working on ships flying the flags of ratifying countries. It’s also an essential step forward in ensuring a level-playing field for countries and shipowners who, until now, have paid the price of being undercut by those who operate substandard ships.” (Basic Facts on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, ILO website (Aug. 13, 2013).)

The agreement, designed to provide international standards for the employment of seafarers, was adopted at an ILO conference in February 2006. It covers:

  • minimum age of employment;
  • employment contracts;
  • work and rest hours;
  • payment of wages;
  • paid annual leave;
  • repatriation at the end of the contract period;
  • onboard medical care;
  • the use of licensed private recruitment and placement services;
  • accommodation, food, and catering;
  • health and safety protection and accident prevention; and
  • handling of complaints. (Id.)

The most recent ratification came from Germany, on August 16, 2013. According to Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, the German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, speaking on the need for the Convention, “[i]nternational competition ought not result in deteriorating the working and living conditions of seafarers.” (Germany Ratifies the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, ILO (Aug. 16, 2013).)