- 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.
- The MLC was adopted in February 2006 and entered into force on 20 August 2013.
- The MLC consolidates and builds on 68 maritime labour conventions and recommendations adopted by the ILO between 1920 and 1996 as well as more general fundamental principles. The MLC does not deal with seafarers’ identity documents (ILO C108 and C185) or with pensions (ILO C71).
- The MLC contains minimum standards only, and seafarers may have better standards under relevant national laws, or under their employment agreements or collective agreements.
- The MLC is an international legal instrument and therefore does not apply directly to ships, shipowners or seafarers. Countries choose whether or not to sign the MLC (i.e. to ratify the MLC).
- If a country ratifies the MLC, then it must implement the requirements of the MLC through its national laws, applicable collective bargaining agreements, or other measures, or in practice.
- Owners of ships registered in a ratifying country then have to follow those national laws or other measures.
- Ratifying countries then inspect the ships registered under their flag and issue a certificate if the ship complies with the MLC.
- Ratifying countries may also choose to inspect any ship coming into one of their ports to ensure that is in compliance with the MLC. If it is not in compliance, the ship may be detained.
- The MLC also applies to the recruitment of seafarers in a ratifying country.
- The MLC has been designed to sit alongside international standards on ship safety, seafarer training and certification, and prevention of pollution from ships (see SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL), and is widely regarded as the 4th pillar of good quality industry regulations.
- The ILO oversees countries’ implementation of the MLC using a sophisticated monitoring system.
For more information
See the ILO Frequently Asked Questions (section C5.2) at http://www.ilo.org/global/standards/maritime-labour-convention/what-it-does/faq/WCMS_177371/lang–en/index.htm