The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) was adopted on 23 February 2006 at the 10th maritime session and 94th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
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.
The MLC offers benefits to both operators and seafarers and is essential to uphold the reputation of the industry.
In 2013 the MLC became binding law for 30 countries.
As of December 2020, a total of 97 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.
Amendments to the Convention
2014 amendments – entered into force 18 January 2017
The first amendments came into effect on 18 January 2017.
The 2014 amendments require shipowners to have compulsory insurance to cover abandonment of seafarers, as well as claims for death or long-term disability. This certificate has to be carried on board the ship.
2016 amendments – entered into force on 8 January 2019
The second set of amendments came into force on 8 January 2019.
The 2016 amendments ensure that:
• 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‘.
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.
2018 amendments – expected to enter into force on 26 December 2020
The third meeting of the ILO’s Special Tripartite Committee in late April 2018 agreed on a third set of amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) which are due to come into effect on 26 December 2020.
The 2018 amendment will bring about a change to seafarer employment agreements (SEAs) so that they continue to have effect and wages shall continue to be paid while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships. The amendment also ensures entitlement of seafarers to repatriation does not lapse if they are held captive as result of piracy or armed robbery.
COVID AND THE MLC
Joint statement of the Officers of the Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, dated 31 March 2020:
New Statement of the Officers of the STC on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – 1 October 2020 at: