An encouraging article in the Nautilus Telegraph this month (April 2016) reports that the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) is being used by an increasing number of seafarers regarding employment issues.
Whilst we often just think about the impact of the MLC on crews of larger vessels, it is interesting to see the impact it’s having on the yachting industry, which can suffer similar welfare problems. The MLC, which came into force in 2013, applies to yachts of all sizes that engage in commercial activity on international voyages.
The most recent Isle of Man Ship registry’s annual MLC report noted complaints made by seafarers on commercial yachts, referring to employment agreements, non payment of wages and unclean living quarters.
When the MLC came in to use, there was much confusion as to how it would apply to the yachting industry but now many owners have seen an opportunity to turn the MLC to their advantage, often referencing their MLC compliance as a benefit when recruiting for staff.
Work is still needed, of course, as the article echoed. In the yachting industry, as in the maritime industry as a whole, there are still those who believe they’re above the law, however it is promising to read that seafarers are feeling increasingly confident about reporting inadequate conditions and repatriation issues against their employers.
Seafarers’ Rights International is keen to keep the topic on the table for all seafarers internationally, beyond the yachting industry, and has been busy behind the scenes to ensure greater awareness, education and support for seafarers affected by employment issues and human rights at sea. We’ll be reporting on this later in the month.
Seafarers can view some short, informative, animated videos on the SRI website that provides an overview of the MLC in clear English, with information on repatriation rights, details of how to complain and what to look out for in the Seafarer’s Employment Agreement (SEA).