On 7 February 2006, the ILO, a United Nations agency, established the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006). According to the convention, all commercial ships over 500 GT trading internationally will require a Maritime Labour Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance. The convention will also apply to ships below 500 GT or those operating on domestic trades (within the flag’s territorial waters) but will not require certification, only inspection.
The convention is now ratified and shall come into force in August 2013.
Shipowners will be required to develop and carry out the requirements of the convention as ratified within the regulations of the flag state. The purpose of MLC 2006 is two fold; to reduce accidents at sea and to protect the rights of the seafarer. The main features covered by the MLC 2006 are: safe and secure working conditions, fair terms of employment, proper living conditions, medical care, hours of rest, recreational facilities, food and catering and welfare and social protection.
For most shipowners, the convention should not alter normal operational standards and procedures as most procedures are already in compliance and only slight changes may be required to comply with protocol of the convention. Shipowners concerned about compliance and requirements can approach their classification societies who are now making a diligent effort to assist shipowners with the requirements to ensure compliance is done at an early stage. The company’s or yacht’s safety management system (SMS) is at the core of compliance with the new convention. It is likely that the new procedures, policies and records of compliance will need to be incorporated into the SMS, especially as this is required for evidence of on-going compliance.
Upon flag state approval of MLC 2006 compliance, the ship will be issued with a Maritime Labour Certificate & Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC)
The certification will be subject to revalidation every five years, with mid-term assessments of the quality of the compliance onboard. It will also form part of future port state control inspections. The issue of a Maritime Labour Certificate to a ship is evidence that the ship complies with the requirements of the convention and meets the flag state’s approval for seafarers’ living and working conditions onboard.
The DMLC is attached to the Maritime Labour Certificate and is completed by both the flag state and the shipowner.
Shipowners will be held responsible under the convention for certain liabilities incurred by the seafarer, ranging from injuries and compensation, to repatriation. Many of these requirements are already shouldered by shipowners. P&I club cover may include some of the liabilities arising out of the convention, however the owner remains liable for these claims even if they arise from war, terrorism, insolvency or bio chemical attack. In these circumstances club cover is currently either limited or not available. Owners will be required to provide evidence of financial security for these claims. Under the MLC owners will be liable for crew repatriation as a result of business insolvency and claims for unpaid wages. They will also be required to provide financial security for such abandonment claims. There will be a right of direct action against the financial security provider for the cost of repatriation and reasonable expenses incurred by the seafarer from the time of abandonment until the time of repatriation and outstanding wages and other contractual entitlements, limited to a period of four months. Currently there is no P&I club cover for these claims and the clubs will not provide the requisite financial security, as this would be a guarantee for an owner’s financial default.
The Maritime Labour Convention, properly implemented, will provide a comprehensive set of maritime labour rules to protect Seafarer rights to a safe working environment, to healthy conditions and appropriate training.
The Support4yachts web application provides users with the ability to perform a GAP analysis and be supported toward their achievement of compliance and ongoing maintenance of this compliance in a structured, paperless and auditable way online and offline.