Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI, joined key experts from international organisations, universities, the legal profession and the maritime industry to speak at the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and Case Law Symposium held last week.
The event, organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Training Centre of the ILO, provided lawyers, judges, legal practitioners and academics from around the world with an insight into the guiding role of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) in advancing decent work in the maritime industry. It included a peer review on the legal aspects of key issues such as working conditions, health and safety, recruitment and placement, discrimination, grievances and complaints procedures.
Obtaining redress in case of violation of seafarers’ rights is often challenging as a result of the multiple jurisdictions and laws and regulations involved.
Deirdre Fitzpatrick explains: “It is crucial that the legal profession can effectively enforce the MLC for seafarers and shipowners alike. Despite the MLC 2006, seafarers continue to encounter many work related problems, in particular in relation to payment of wages, abandonment, repatriation and compensation in cases of death or long-term disability. More than ever before, seafarers are seeking advice from lawyers and access to courts and good legal assistance is vital in the event of labour disputes.
“SRI has collaborated with the ILO to develop this Symposium and to deliver a programme that has raised awareness and expanded knowledge around case law concerning the MLC. This was a ground breaking event which opened dialogue focusing on issues arising in the context of labour disputes and explored a comparative analysis of court decisions concerning the MLC at the international and national level”.
SRI engaged with national lawyers from around the world to provide a selection of major issues and decisions for discussion at the Symposium. It is hoped that in the future these legal professionals will better understand the issues and work to facilitate as much harmonisation as possible for future legal decisions made by courts around the world.
Working and living conditions of seafarers have always been of special concern to the ILO. In February 2006, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) was adopted by government, employer and worker representatives. Widely known as the ‘seafarers’ bill of rights’, it is unique in its effects on both seafarers and quality shipping.