MLC Proposes Safety Nets for Abandoned Seafarers

Now, seafarers will be better protected as a consequence of two amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention.

Seafarers who are let down by their ship owner or who are entitled to economic compensation in case of long-term disablement or death will now be better secured.

Agreement on improved security

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) has a special way of adjusting the regulations so that they can constantly help find up-to-date and relevant solutions to issues of importance to seafarers. A special MLC tripartite committee has just held its first meeting.

The purpose was, inter alia, to discuss a tightening of the provisions in relation to seafarers left behind and improved economic security for persons who have, for example, incurred an occupational injury.

 Need for a safety net

Typically, the seafarers are left behind far away from their home country. At the meeting, it was therefore generally agreed that there is a need to ensure that seafarers are assisted when they are left behind without any wages and food on board.

It was also agreed that there must be a safety net when the ship owner’s economy is poor in order to ensure that the seafarer can get food and clean drinking water and has a possibility of, for example, taking a bath on board. In addition, it must be possible for the seafarer to have his or her home journey paid.

Finally, the regulations are intended to increase the possibility of the seafarer getting any wages due without engaging in fatiguing trials against a ship owner who neither can nor will pay. It is also a problem for the seafarers and their families if there is no insurance or the like to ensure payment of compensation in case a seafarer is disabled or dies as a consequence of an occupational injury.

There was agreement about the need for an economic safety net.

Deputy Director-General Birgit Sølling Olsen states: “Denmark already has a good protective system for seafarers on board Danish ships, but in a global perspective the new provisions will be of great importance to the seafarers and their families internationally. Thus, the regulations will help prevent social dumping and exploitation of seafarers. The Danish regulations already cover a number of the situations that the coming MLC provisions are trying to take into consideration. Therefore, there will be a need for minor adjustments of the Danish provisions once the new regulations are adopted this summer.”

It is expected that the new regulations will be adopted at the annual session of the International Labour Conference to be held in May-June 2014.

Press Release, April 22, 2014

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