Today, the Port of Bilbao has hosted the IV tripartite conference regarding the application of the Maritime Labour Convention in Spain. Asier Atutxa, Chairman of the Port Authority of Bilbao, María Jesús San José, Autonomous Basque Government Minister for Employment and Justice and Joaquín Nieto, Director of the International Labour Organisation Office for Spain, took part in the inauguration of the event.
The Maritime Labour Convention is an international norm of the International Labour Organisation which was adopted in 2006 and came into force 20 August 2013.
The Convention is defined as the “seafarers’ bill of rights” and its main aims are to guarantee wide protection of the rights of seafaring workers throughout the world, the first truly global sector, and to ensure fair competition for quality owners of ships flying the flags of ratifying countries, thus protecting them from unfair competition from vessels that do not comply with the norms.
The Convention constitutes the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The comprehensive Convention sets out in one place seafarers’ rights to decent working conditions on almost every aspect of their working and living conditions including, among others, minimum age, employment agreements, hours of work or rest, payment of wages, paid annual leave, repatriation at the end of contract, on-board medical care, the use of licensed private recruitment and placement services, accommodation, food and catering, health and safety protection and accident prevention and seafarers’ complaint handling.
It also contains important new compliance and enforcement components based on flag State inspection and for port State control. The Convention mandates that commercially operated ships of 500 gross tonnage or over and governed by its provisions will, if they operate on international voyages, be required to carry, among other things, two specific documents: a
Maritime Labour Certificate (MLC) and a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) providing prima facie evidence that the ships are in compliance with the requirements of the Convention. These two documents will be subject to inspection when ships enter the ports of other countries that have ratified the Convention. In addition, ships flying the flag of countries that have not ratified the Convention will also be subject to inspection with respect to working and living conditions for seafarers when they enter ports of countries where it is in force.
This “no more favourable treatment” approach, is an important aspect to help ensure fair competition for ship-owners that comply with the Convention.
The Convention has been ratified by 82 ILO member States responsible for regulating conditions for seafarers on more than 90 per cent of the world’s gross tonnage of ships. One of the most innovating features of this convention with regard to other ILO conventions is the certification of the working and living conditions of people on-board ships and the creation of a MLC Special Tripartite Committee in 2006 to continuously monitor the application of the Convention.
Since the Convention came into force in 2013, a tripartite conference has been held in Spain each year in order to discuss the advances and challenges brought about by applying the Convention in the country, and to also identify possible areas of action and work in common.