In the run up to the International Day of the Seafarer on June 25, 2016, SRI has released a short hard-hitting film designed to raise awareness of the ever present risk of seafarers facing abandonment. Drawing on situations where seafarers were abandoned, the film highlights the inhumane conditions that abandoned seafarers face, and warns seafarers how to avoid being abandoned as well as what they can do if they are abandoned.
Concerns about the blight of abandonment have been the focus of expert tripartite meetings amongst seafarers, shipowners and governments since 2001. These discussions culminated in a proposed amendment to the Maritime Labour Convention agreed in April 2014, which should come into force in early 2017.
Brian Orrell, Chairman of the Advisory Board of SRI said: “The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 is a directory of the entitlements and the rights of seafarers in a number of areas: employment terms, accommodation, catering, welfare, social security. Within that, there is a section on repatriation. There was a view by some in the MLC negotiations that the repatriation arrangements in the MLC covered abandonment and were quite satisfactory on their own. In actual fact they weren’t, because the repatriation requirements in the MLC are related to a number of specific circumstances which do not encompass the abandonment cases that are occurring.”
Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI commented: “It is a blot on the industry that in the present day, shipowners can walk away from their responsibilities and be unaccountable for abandoning their crew. Such behaviour has been condemned by all respectable sectors of the industry and it is not before time therefore that an amendment to the Maritime Labour Convention will put in place a system to protect seafarers from the worst consequences of being abandoned. Hopefully the amendment – which goes beyond the current MLC provisions on financial security for repatriation – will have a real impact and make reports of abandoned crews a thing of the past”