Maritime Labour Convention – Club briefing (Editorial - 2nd December 2010)

The Club has published its latest Legal Briefing “Comprehensive rights and protection at work” reviewing the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and explaining the implications for Members of its adoption into national labour laws.

The MLC is a single, consolidated convention that provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for more than 1.2 million seafarers worldwide. It consolidates and updates more than 65 international labour standards relating to seafarers adopted over the last 80 years and, importantly, for the first time, it creates a system of certification and inspection to enforce those standards.

Thirty member states with a total share in the world gross tonnage of ships of 33 per cent are required to ratify the convention for it to come into force. The ten states who have so far ratified already satisfy that minimum tonnage requirement.

Although it is unlikely that the MLC will come into force before 2012, Members should start taking steps now to ensure that they are prepared once the Convention is fully ratified and becomes effective.

P&I Club cover will respond to the majority of the requirements but has significant gaps and will not cover, for instance, repatriation after insolvency and claims for unpaid wages, nor will it respond directly to seafarers' claims for compensation as
opposed to indemnifying the owner.

The MLC represents a significant change to the regulation of employment terms and working conditions for seafarers. For example, Masters and senior officers will need to be trained in ensuring that the ship is compliant with the MLC including dealing with crew complaints and monitoring working time limits.

The Legal Briefing suggests a number of action steps for Members to initiate this process, in close consultation with their legal advisors.

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