Buyers should insist on ship-shape working conditions

24 August 2012

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24 August 2012 | Anna Reynolds

Ensuring good working conditions for seafarers could become a requirement for buyers when drawing up shipping contracts.

This week, the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 was ratified by Russia and The Philippines, meaning it now covers 30 countries representing 60 per cent of the world’s shipping – the threshold necessary for its implementation. The convention establishes minimum requirements for working conditions for seafarers, including health and safety, medical care and living conditions on board.

And according to the International Labour Organization, it could become a contractual requirement for buyers to enforce when it is introduced in 2013.

Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, director of the ILO’s international labour standards department, said: “Given the current coverage of the world fleet and with the support of the International Shipping Federationand the International Transport Workers' Federation, it is very possible that MLC 2006 certification will come to be viewed as an indication of a ‘quality ship owner or operator.’ It may well become a requirement included in contractual arrangements by buyers or others in the supply chain.”

The convention requires all ships be inspected by port state control, which upholds the standards of international agreements, and some ships – those carrying more than 500 in grosse tonnage - will have to carry a certificate. The ILO warned there could be substantial financial consequences for ship owners that provide substandard conditions for seafarers.


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