Understanding the Importance of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was established in the year 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland as a part of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The convention was established with a view to ensure that the rights and needs of the seamen are safeguarded and they are enabled to get what is rightfully due to them without being exploited.

At present the maritime convention requires ratification by 30 countries engaged in marine trade of which only 13 countries have confirmed or ratified it. Additionally, it is required that these 30 countries, who have to be members of the ILO, have to have a minimum stake of 33% in the international shipping sector (calculated on the basis of share percentage of gross tonnage of ships).

Based on the ratification by all countries, the convention is expected to be brought into active force within a year of ratification – in this case, in the year 2011 or latest by early-2012. Some of the 13 countries that have ratified the convention are the Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Canada and Denmark.

The Marine Labour Convention forms the fourth mainstay of the International Maritime Organisation in terms of providing qualitative transportation in the marine areas. The other three mainstays include the MARPOL, STCW and SOLAS conventions.

Maritime Labour Convention

The main reason that the convention was decided to be implemented was because of the nature and extent of trade and business activities through the marine channels. According to statistics, nearly 90% of the international trading is carried out through the oceanic routes, involving nearly 1.2 million people as professional seamen.

In order to unify the rights of the seamen, many concepts from both the maritime and the international labour organisations – 68 in totality over the past eight decades – have been amalgamated so as to create a complete and thorough law body on maritime labour.

Some of the concepts and laws that have been taken into account for the MLC preparation can be enumerated as follows:

1). Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951

2). Minimum Wage Convention, 1973

3). The Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999

4). The Abolition of the Forced Labour Convention, 1957

5). The labour convention also seeks to revise some of the current conventions and laws which are part of the maritime

labour organisation. A few of these prospective revisable laws can be listed down as follows:

  • Minimum Age (Sea) Convention, 1920
  • Placing of Seamen Convention, 1920
  • Certification of Ships’ Cook Convention, 1946
  • Hours of Work and Manning (Sea) Convention, 1936
  • Seamen’s Articles of Agreement Convention, 1926
  • Paid Vacations (Seafarers) Convention, 1946
  • Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976
  • Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers Convention, 1996

Divided into three parts, the Articles, Regulations and the Code, the MLC is highly detailed and lists down the rights, requirements in the form of duties and the rationales of the countries which confirm the marine labour convention by ratifying it, in its first two parts. In addition, the MLC also lists down the manner of implementation of the prescribed regulations in its third and final part – the Code.

The implementation of the set and prescribed convention rules is the obligation of the marine offices of the countries which have ratified the convention.

For this purpose, there has been established a set-up to supervise and govern the implementation of the MLC stipulations. This set-up will also act as the mediator in case of any troubles and conflicts posed to arise while the convention is being practically carried out.

With the help of the Maritime Labour Convention, it has been envisioned that a universally applicable body of law will come into force which would be a unique achievement for the marine sector on the whole.

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