Maritime Labour Convention only 65% effective, says SRI

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New research from SRI, the international pan-industry body researching maritime and seafarers’ law, concludes that the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is not being strictly and evenly enforced on a global basis. The findings identify substantial achievements in the enforcement of the MLC but also identify significant gaps.

The research has adopted a unique approach by evaluating the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders and role players in the Convention. It also presents a Table with a selection of indicators that aim to provide a reasonably comprehensive, balanced and broad-based assessment of the global effectiveness of the MLC.

Taking the findings and the Table as a whole and aggregating all regions of the world, it is very approximately estimated that implementation and enforcement of the MLC is achieving a success rate of around 65%.

“These findings challenge any complacency about the MLC working efficiently and uniformly around the world,” says Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI. “The high level of ratifications and coverage of world tonnage could lead to the view that the MLC is widely effective around the world. But the research shows a different reality.

“The MLC has not yet achieved a single international level playing field and more efforts are needed to address the gaps in the effectiveness of the Convention.”

When the MLC was unanimously adopted by the 94th (Maritime) Session of the ILC, Geneva in February 2006, it was variously described as ‘an extraordinary accomplishment’, ‘a truly historic event’, ‘epoch-making’ and ‘without precedent’.

More than 10 years after the MLC came into force, the industry is facing momentous change. “The research found that the significance of the MLC as a living instrument must also be seen in the changing maritime environment and as intrinsically linked with other international conventions and the changes that are being seen with Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships; environmental, social and governance in the shipping industry; and climate change”, adds Deirdre Fitzpatrick.

“Some of the barriers to a level playing field appear to be lack of resources and expertise to implement and enforce the Convention strictly and evenly by all States around the world. States ratify the Convention but there are cases where the States then do not implement the provisions of the MLC into their national laws and practices, or they do not report their compliance to the ILO.

“It is an ongoing task to build capacity and awareness leading to compliance for a more effective MLC around the world.”

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