The International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) comes into force today, Aug. 20.
The UN agency said it inaugurates "a new era of decent work for seafarers and fair competition for shipowners in the global shipping industry."
“This convention is a milestone in maritime history,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “The product of tripartite dialogue and international cooperation, it enables decent working and living conditions for seafarers to be advanced, along with fair competition for shipowners in this, the most globalized of industries.”
“I call on all countries with a maritime interest to ratify – if they have not yet done so – and urge governments and shipowners to work effectively to implement this convention,” Ryder added.
The new convention, which was approved in 2006, became binding international law for the first 30 counties that registered ratification as of August 20 of last year. For all
other countries that have ratified, it will enter in force 12 months
after their ratifications were registered. To date, 47 ILO member states representing more than 70 per cent of global gross shipping tonnage have ratified the Convention.
According to the ILO Website, the United States has not ratified the agreement.
On July 30, the U.S. Coast Guard noted that unless and until the government ratifies the convention, it cannot enforce the requirements on U.S. vessels or foreign vessels while on the navigable waters of the United States.
It also noted that the MLC contains a “no more favorable treatment clause,” which requires the governments of ratifying nations to impose convention requirements on vessels from non-ratifying nations.
"As a result, a U.S. vessel that is not able to demonstrate voluntary compliance with the standards of the convention may be at risk for Port State Control actions (including detention) when operating in a port of a ratifying nation," the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard said to assist owners and operators of U.S. vessels in avoiding these risks, it has created Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular NVIC 02-13 that "sets forth guidance on a voluntary inspection program for vessel owners/operators who wish to document compliance with the standards of the MLC. U.S. commercial vessels that operate on international routes, meaning those vessels that will enter the ports of countries that are parties to the MLC, are encouraged to participate. Those vessels not engaging on international voyages are not affected."
In finalizing NVIC 02-13, the Coast Guard used measures identified in the MLC, including determinations that vessels will be deemed compliant with the MLC based on evidence of their compliance with substantially equivalent U.S. laws, regulations and other measures. The Coast Guard's use of such equivalencies is intended to help vessels streamline their compliance efforts so that, where appropriate, a vessel's compliance with domestic requirements also meets the standards of the MLC.
Should the U.S. government ratify the MLC, its applicability may cover a broader population of vessel owners/operators than that addressed in NVIC 02-13. At that time, the Coast Guard would consider whether new or revised guidance is necessary.
Meanwhile, ILO said the convention has the full support of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents seafarers, and the International Shipowners Federation (ISF), both of which played a key role during the five years of its development and in the adoption of the convention at a special ILO International Labour Conference in 2006.
It also said it has the strong support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which oversees the global shipping sector, that moves some 90 per cent of world trade. The European Union has adopted directives to give effect to the convention, while the Paris MOU and the Tokyo MOU, which are port state control regional organizations have adopted MLC, 2006 compliant guidelines to strengthen port state control inspections.
“The coming into force of the MLC, 2006 is a unique event in the history
of international maritme labor law,” said Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, ILO
director of the International Labor Standards Department. “It is now
incumbent on all to ensure that ratification and legal implementation
translate into law and practice so that the world's seafarers can truly
benefit from the protection of the convention and that shipowners who
meet the decent work requirements of the convention can enjoy the
benefits it offers.”
She called for "all ILO member states with a
maritime interest ratify the convention. The
ILO will continue to work with governments and with seafarers' and
shipowners' organizations and other key actors in the maritime industry
to help ensure that the goals of the MLC, 2006 are achieved.” - Chris Dupin