The lack of a framework to adequately protect abandoned seafarers has been frustrating – but positive change is happening.
Amendments to the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC,2006) specifically related to abandonment received overwhelming support from 61 ILO Member States who represent more than 80 percent of the world’s global shipping tonnage.
Corrine Vargha, Director, International Labour Standards Department, ILO says, “The MLC overlooked a number of consequences that are severely impacting seafarers that find themselves in the situation of abandonment. So this is why amendments were tabled in 2014 and adopted in order to properly and comprehensively regulate protection of seafarers against abandonment. The first component of the amendment related to a clear definition of what abandonment situations are and what situations we are regulating.
The second important element of the amendment is about the establishment of the financial security system. Seafarers who find themselves in a situation of abandonment would have direct access to a fund that would speedily pay them what the ship-owner owes them, not only in terms of the repatriation cost, but also covering a number of other related costs to abandonment, in particular wage arrears that the ship-owner might have to pay still to the seafarers, but also all the other related costs a seafarer might incur in a situation of abandonment.
The amendments related to the abandonment will come in to force in January 2017 and it will come in to force for all member states which would have not expressed formally their disagreement.
The ILO wants to achieve effective protection of every single seafarer in the world who finds himself or herself in a situation of abandonment.”
SRI will continue to provide seafarers with the guidance and information they need to navigate their way through this framework.