Seafarers Rights International has welcomed the strengthening of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to give greater protection to crew against abandonment and in cases of claims for workplace death or long-term disability.
Commenting on the amendments, adopted at the first meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee of the MLC which concluded on Friday 11 April 2014, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI said: “SRI has studied the laws of abandonment in more than 30 countries and currently there does not appear to be any provision for compulsory financial security that can be directly accessed by seafarers in the event of their abandonment.
“The amendments to the MLC now provide for such security. If the amendments are enacted into national law, including effective operation of a financial security system, then seafarers should be protected from the worst consequences of abandonment. We therefore welcome these amendments, but it is too early to celebrate the notion that seafarers are now immediately and comprehensively protected from abandonment.”
Amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, agreed at the meeting, will ensure the provision of financial security systems to assist seafarers in the event of their abandonment and for compensation for seafarers’ contractual claims for death and personal injury. However, they now need to be approved at the June meeting of the International Labour Conference. If approved they will require member states to ensure ships sailing under their flags maintain a financial security system to cover contingencies such as personal injury or death, long-term disability or abandonment. Vessels will be required to carry on board a certificate proving their coverage, in the form of either insurance, a national fund, social security scheme or similar arrangements.
Commenting on amendments pertaining to contractual claims for death or long term disability of seafarers, Ms Fitzpatrick said: “Again the solution to require financial security could mean an effective recourse for seafarers or their families facing potentially complex legal claims for compensation due to an occupational illness or hazard. The effective working of financial security will be pivotal in both abandonment and injury or death claims.
“Our efforts must continue to ensure that both these amendments are not theoretical, but deliver for seafarers practical and enforceable rights,” she emphasized.