What is the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)?
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) is an international agreement of the International Labour Organisation (‘ILO’) which sets out seafarers’ rights to decent conditions of work. It is sometimes called the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’. It applies to all seafarers, including those with jobs in hotel and other passenger services on cruise ships and commercial yachts,
In 2013 the MLC became binding law for 30 countries.
As of January 2019, a total of 90 countries had ratified the MLC 2006, which has resulted in more than 91% of the world’s shipping fleet being regulated. For detailed information please visit the ILO website.
More than 100 pages long, the MLC 2006 sets minimum requirements for nearly every aspect of working and living conditions for seafarers including recruitment and placement practices, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, repatriation, annual leave, payment of wages, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, occupational safety and health, medical care, onshore welfare services and social protection.
A second set of amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) for improving crew safety and welfare came into force on 8 January 2019.
- Account is to be taken of the latest version of the guidance on eliminating shipboard harassment and bullying, jointly published by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
- In addition to the various health and safety matters which the MLC requires should be taken into account, there is added ‘harassment and bullying‘.
- To the list of matters which should be considered for investigation in a health and safety context, there is added ‘problems arising from harassment and bullying‘.
Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, is an abuse of human rights and living on a ship offers limited alternatives to avoid it. Although these changes are non-mandatory, flag states must give due consideration to implementing them.
A further amendment has been made to mandatory Standard A5.1.3, whereby flag states may extend the validity of a Maritime Labour Certificate (which is otherwise limited to a maximum period of validity of five years) by up to a further five months. This will apply where a ship has successfully completed an MLC renewal inspection, but a new certificate cannot immediately be issued and made available on board.