Maritime Labor Convention to protect seafarers now in force

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THE International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention came into force this week to ensure the protection of some 1.5 million seafarers and free competition for shipowners.

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The convention has particular resonance to the Philippines, the largest source of seafarers. One-third of seafarers in the world are Filipinos, a statement from the ILO said.

It added that the coming into force of the convention marked a new era of decent work for seafarers in the global shipping industry.

The convention is a milestone in maritime history, Guy Ryder, ILO director-general, said in the statement.

“The product of tripartite dialogue and international cooperation, it enables decent working and living conditions for seafarers to be advanced, along with fair competition for shipowners in this, the most globalized of industries,” he said.

“I call on all countries with a maritime interest to ratify—if they have not yet done so—and urge governments and shipowners to work effectively to implement this Convention,” Ryder added.

The new convention becomes binding international law as of August 20 this year. It needed ratification by 30 ILO member-states, representing more than 33 per cent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage to enter into force.

To date, more than 45 ILO member-states representing more than 70 per cent of global gross shipping tonnage have ratified the convention.

The convention has the full support of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents seafarers, and the International Shipowners Federation (ISF), both of which played a key role during the five years of its development and in the adoption of the convention at a special ILO International Labour Conference in 2006.

The MLC, 2006 also has the strong support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which oversees the global shipping sector, that moves some 90 per cent of world trade.

The European Union has adopted directives to give effect to the convention, while the Paris MOU and the Tokyo MOU, which are port state control regional organizations that have adopted MLC, 2006 compliant guidelines to strengthen port State control inspections.

Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, ILO director of the International Labor Standards Department said it is incumbent on all to ensure that ratification and legal implementation of the convention translate into law and practice “so that the world’s seafarers can truly benefit from the protection of the convention and that shipowners who meet the decent work requirements of the convention can enjoy the benefits it offers.”

Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

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