Governments, maritime employer representatives co-ordinated by the International Shipping Federation (ISF) and their counterparts from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met this week at the International Labour Organization in Geneva for the first meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee (STC) established under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006).
During the meeting agreement was reached for amendments to the Convention to ensure the provision of financial security systems to assist seafarers in the event of their abandonment and for compensation for seafarers’ contractual claims for death and personal injury.
ISF spokesperson Arthur Bowring, who led the Shipowner Group in the discussions, stated: “We believe that the first meeting of the MLC Special Tripartite Committee has been a watershed in the history of the Maritime Labour Convention. The MLC, 2006 is intended to bring social justice and fair competition to the shipping industry and the lack of a specific reference to abandonment in the mandatory instruments of ILO and IMO was an omission that needed comprehensive action.
“The first Special Tripartite Committee considered amendments developed over ten years by the Joint ILO and IMO working group and we believe that the outcome of our work this week is a significant achievement.”
He went on to explain that “ship owners have a responsibility for seafarers under their contractual employment arrangements, and the problems created when the seafarers are abandoned needed specific legislative measures. The new amendments not only provide that safeguard but also recognise the role to be played by flag states and labour supply states.”
In fact only a very tiny proportion of the world’s seafarers experience the despair of abandonment but that does not make the occurrence any less serious for the affected seafarers and their families.
ISF members were particularly concerned to see the new ILO video explaining the case of the B Ladybug, where the crew has been without financial or welfare support from the ship owner for well over 12 months. This is the sort of deplorable situation that the new amendments to the MLC, 2006 will help to speedily address.
The STC meeting also clarified Standard A4.2 to ensure that contractual claims for death and personal injury are now appropriately covered.