Alarming concern that the shipping industry is ‘not prepared for the huge challenge’ of the fast-approaching implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) has been raised by the International Maritime Employers’ Committee (IMEC).
An issue that seems to have taken on a slightly secondary role at a time when shipping is already facing phenomenal challenges, the MLC mandation has been compared to a ‘train speeding down the track towards us’, and that if the industry does not act right now, there will be major consequences.
Giles Heimann, Secretary General of IMEC, said: “The MLC is without doubt one of the most significant pieces of maritime labour legislation to hit the industry for as long as we can remember. Implementation is rapidly approaching, and I honestly believe we will be looking at implementation of the MLC during 2011.
“Both for ship owners and managers, there are major consequences for the MLC being implemented, and there are requirements that they’ll need to have in place. There are also major consequences for the flag and port states with regards to inspections and providing flag state administration,” he warned.
With insufficient preparation being the primary source for concern, IMEC has highlighted the potential problems regarding both flag state and port state guidelines for MLC inspections, given that the current port state control inspection competencies will be completely different to the regulations set out by the new Convention.
Asserting how “the areas are completely different,” Mr Heimann stressed: “You can’t expect a guy who’s probably been an engineer, a deck officer, who is proficient in safety and so on, to understand the complexities of crew contracts, etc overnight. Administrations need to be acting right now to make sure that their inspectors are trained effectively to carry out these inspections.”
He added: “Time is very, very short. It is a huge piece of international legislation, and it is a huge challenge. On top of MLC we’ve got the amendments to STCW coming out as well, which we’re all going to be concerned with. There is deep concern that the MLC is coming towards us, and we need to make sure we are prepared for it, because I don’t think we are at the moment. I don’t think the industry realises the size of the job we’ve got.”