ILO & MLC 2006

Q. When was ILO created? Why was there a need for this?
Ans. The ILO was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice. The Constitution was drafted by the Peace Conference, which first met in Paris and then in Versailles.

The two important aspects were:

1.  Social justice in securing peace, against a background of exploitation of workers in the industrializing nations.
2. Understanding of the world’s economic interdependence and the need for cooperation to obtain similarity of working conditions in countries competing for markets.

Q. What were the areas of improvement listed in preamble?
Ans. The Preamble stated, ‘lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice’. The areas of improvement listed in the Preamble were:

  • Regulation of the hours of work including the establishment of a maximum working per day and week;
  • Regulations of labour supply, prevention of unemployment and provision of an adequate living wage;
  • Protection of the worker against sickness, disease and injury arising out of his employment;
  • Protection of children, young persons and women;
  • Provision for old age and injury, protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own;
  • Recognition of the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value;
  • Recognition of the principle of freedom of association.

Q. What were the early and important Labour Conventions?
Ans. The first International Labour Conference held in Washington in October 1919 adopted six International Labour Conventions, which dealt with hours of work in industry, unemployment, maternity protection, night work for women, minimum age and night work for young persons in industry. The ILO was located in Geneva in 1920, which is the Organization’s permanent Secretariat. 16 International Labour Conventions and 18 Recommendations were adopted in less than two years. A Committee of Experts was set up in 1926. In 1946, the ILO became a specialized agency of the newly formed United Nations. And, in 1948 the International Labour Conference adopted Convention No. 87 on freedom of association and the right to organize.

Q. What are the governing bodies of ILO?
Ans. The governing infrastructure includes:

1.  Governing body, which is the executive council of the ILO. It meets three times a year in Geneva, takes decisions on ILO policy and establishes the program and the budget & then submits to the Conference for adoption.
2.  International Labour Office, which is the permanent secretariat of the ILO. It is the focal point for ILO’s overall activities.
3. Support Committees of experts on vocational training, management development, occupational safety and health, industry relations, workers’ education, and special problems of women and young workers.
4.  In addition there are tripartite committees covering major industries.

Q. How often is International Labour Conference held? 
Ans. ILC meets annually in Geneva. It sets the International labour standards / policies of the ILO. It is like an International Parliament of Labour. It is a forum to discuss key social and labour questions.

Q. What is MLC 2006?
Ans. The Maritime Labour Convention or MLC, 2006 is an International Labour Convention adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It provides international standards for the Marine Global Industry and thus to certify the working and living condition of all ships over 500 GT in international trade. The MLC, 2006 was adopted by government, employer and workers representatives at a special ILO International Labour Conference. It is an important new International Labour Convention that was adopted, under article 19 of its Constitution at a maritime session in February 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland.

It’s two basic objectives apart from having exclusive consolidated Convention are:

  1. To achieve decent work for seafarers.
  2. To secure economic interests through fair competition for quality ship owners.

Q. Why was a new Convention needed?
Ans. The various reasons are as follows:

1. The decision by the ILO to move forward to create this major new Maritime Labour Convention was the result of a joint resolution in 2001 by the international seafarers’ and shipowners’ organizations, later supported by governments.
2. Thus, shipping industry is the world’s first genuinely global industry” which “requires an international regulatory response of an appropriate kind, global standards applicable to the entire industry”.
3. The ILO was called to develop “an instrument which brings together into a consolidated text as much of the existing body of ILO instruments as it proves possible to achieve” as a matter of priority “in order to improve the relevance of those standards to the needs of all the stakeholders of the maritime sector”.
4. It was felt that the very large number of the existing maritime Conventions, many of which are very detailed, made it difficult for governments to ratify and to enforce all of the standards.
5. Many of the standards were out of date and did not reflect contemporary working and living conditions on board ships.
6. There was a need to develop a more effective enforcement and compliance system that would help to eliminate substandard ships and that would work within the well-established international system for enforcement of the international standards for ship safety and security and environmental protection that have been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
7. This comprehensive Convention sets out, seafarers’ rights to decent working conditions. It  covers almost every aspect of their work and life on board.

Q. What areas are covered by MLC 2006?
Ans. Under the MLC, 2006 every seafarer has the right to:

  • a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards;
  • fair terms of employment;
  • decent working and living conditions on board ship;
  • health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.

The idea pursued being, decent working conditions go hand in hand with fair competition. MLC 2006 covers almost every aspect of their work and life on board, such as:

  • minimum age;
  • seafarers’ employment agreements;
  • hours of work or rest;
  • payment of wages;
  • paid annual leave;
  • repatriation at the end of contract;
  • onboard medical care;
  • the use of licensed private recruitment and placement services;
  • accommodation, food and catering;
  • health and safety protection and accident prevention; and
  • seafarers’ complaint handling.

The Convention was designed to be applicable globally, easy to understand, readily updatable and uniformly enforced and is usually referred to as the fourth pillar of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping.

Q. What shows that the Convention has received a huge welcome world-over?
Ans. The requirements for the MLC, 2006’s entry-into-force were intentionally made the most stringent of any ILO Convention ever adopted in the Organization’s 94-year history: The concern was to ensure that that this Convention had the strong backing of the maritime sector, especially flag States, before it came into force. The Convention was intended to enter into force 12 months after the date on which there have been registered ratifications by at least 30 Members with a total share in the world gross tonnage of ships of 33 per cent”, much higher than the usual ratification level for ILO Conventions.

The unprecedented level of support reflected huge support by all organizations. In fact, the demanding entry-into-force requirements were achieved on 20 August 2012. On August 20, 2013, the MLC, 2006 entered into force and became binding international law for the “first 30” countries with registered ratifications on August 20, 2012. For all other countries that have ratified, it entered in force 12 months after their ratifications were registered.

Q. What inspection may be carried out if ships from non member state arrive?
Ans. Ships flying the flag of countries that have not ratified the MLC, 2006 are also subject to inspection with respect to working and living conditions for seafarers when those ships enter in port of countries where the MLC, 2006 is in force. This inspection, called “no more favourable treatment,” is an important aspect of the Convention, aimed at helping to ensure fair competition for ship-owners who comply with the MLC, 2006 by providing decent work for seafarers.

Q. Which ships are covered?
Ans. The Convention applies to all ships over 500 GT in international trade.

1. The MLC, 2006 defines seafarers as “all persons who are employed or are engaged or work in any capacity on board a ship to which the Convention applies.”
2. This includes persons working in hotel positions that provide a range of services for passengers on cruise ships or yachts.
3. It applies to a wide range of ships operating on international and national or domestic voyages.
4. It covers all ships other than those which navigate exclusively in inland waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.
5. The Convention applies to all those ships, whether publicly or privately owned, that are ordinarily engaged in commercial activities, except:

  • ships engaged in fishing or in similar pursuits
  • ships of traditional build such as dhows and junks
  • warships or naval auxiliaries

Q. Whose responsibility is it that a ship complies?
Ans. The MLC, 2006 contains an important new compliance and enforcement component based on a flag State ship inspection and certification system, and port State control. The Flag State will remain fully responsible implementing and enforcing the Convention through national measures, but may delegate inspection and certification to Recognised Organisations (RO). Flag States and ship owners, both will benefit from effective one stop inspection through use of a CS as RO.

Q. What is the process of Certification?
Ans. The MLC certification process is similar to ISM and ISPS for ships, and the certificate has 5 years validity and the process will include interim, initial and intermediate inspections.

Q. Why MLC 2006 is also referred to as Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention, 2006?
Ans. The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 contains a comprehensive set of global standards, based on those that are already found in 68 maritime labour instruments (Conventions and Recommendations), adopted by the ILO since 1920. The new Convention brings almost all of the existing maritime labour instruments together in a single new Convention that uses a new format with some updating, where necessary, to reflect modern conditions and language. The Conventions, which is no longer relevant to the sector, are not consolidated by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

Q. What are the basic 5 titles under MLC 2006?
Ans. The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is divided into 5 main titles which are:

1. Minimum Requirements for seafarers to work on ships. (In respect of age, medical fitness, training and recruitment, etc).
2. Conditions of Employment. (In respect of seafarer’s agreement, wages; rest and work hours; leave, repatriation, compensation for ship’s loss; Safe manning; career and skill development; etc).
3. Accommodation, recreation, food and catering.
4. Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.( dealing also with  care on board and ashore including ship owner’s liability; accident prevention; access to shore based welfare facilities, etc).
5. Compliance and Enforcement. (Dealing with Flag State responsibility; recognized organizations; MLC & DMLC with Inspection and enforcement; onboard compliance procedures; & Port State responsibilities; etc)

Q. How is the Convention made easy to refer and user friendly?
Ans. The Convention uses a new “vertically integrated” format with a numbering system that links the Regulations, Standards and Guidelines. Each Regulation also has a “plain language” purpose clause.

Thus, the purpose of Medical certificate is to ensure that all seafarers are medically fit. The seafarer must be medically fit to perform the duties they are to carry out at sea. The International Guidelines in this respect are provided in part B. The Part B of the Code is based on the idea of firmness combined with flexibility in implementation. Without this innovation the new Convention could never aspire to wide-scale ratification. Part A and Part B of the Code are interrelated. The provisions of Part B, called Guidelines, while not mandatory, are helpful and sometimes essential for a proper understanding of the Regulations and the mandatory Standards in Part A.

The Regulations and the Standards (Part A) and Guidelines (Part B) in the Code are integrated and organized into general areas of concern under five Titles as stated above. These five Titles essentially cover the same subject matter as the existing 68 maritime labour instruments,

Q. What are the documents required under MLC 2006?
Ans. The two certificates are as follows:

  1. Maritime labour certificate
    The certificate would be issued by the Flag State to a ship that flies its flag, once the State (or a Recognized Organization that has been authorized to carry out the inspections), has verified that the labour conditions on the ship comply with national laws and regulations implementing the Convention. The certificate would be valid for five years subject to periodic inspections by the flag State.
  2. Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance.
    The declaration is attached to the certificate and summarizes the national laws or regulations implementing an agreed-upon list of 14 areas of the maritime standards and setting out the shipowner’s or operator’s plan for ensuring that the national requirements implementing the Convention will be maintained on the ship between inspections.

Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) is in two parts:
Part I – is to be completed by the flag state and refers to the relevant national requirements that are to be met and which may be inspected to ensure compliance, including any exemptions granted.
Part II – is completed by the ship owner and outlines the measures that the shipowner has put into place to ensure ongoing compliance on the ship with these Flag State requirements.

Q. What is the right to complain available to the seafarer?
Ans. Seafarer has rights and remedies available in case of alleged non-compliance with the requirements of the Convention. He also has right to make complaints, both on board ship and ashore, the same is recognized in the Convention.

Q. What is the responsibility of shipowners?
Ans. Shipowners owning the ships of 500 gross tonnage and above, engaged in international voyages or voyages between foreign ports, are required to develop and carry out plans for ensuring that the applicable national laws, regulations or other measures to implement the Convention are actually being complied with.

Q. What is the responsibility of ship Masters?
Ans. Masters are responsible for carrying out the shipowners’ stated plans, and for keeping proper records to evidence implementation of the requirements of the Convention.

Q. What is the responsibility of Flag State?
Ans. Flag State or recognized organization on its behalf must review the shipowners’ plans and verify and certify that they are actually in place and being implemented. Flag States will also be expected to ensure that national laws and regulations implementing the Convention’s standards are respected on smaller ships that are not covered by the certification system. Flag States will carry out periodic quality assessments of the effectiveness of their national systems of compliance, and their reports to the ILO under article 22 of the Constitution will need to provide information on their inspection and certification systems, including on their methods of quality assessment.

Q. Are there any guidelines available to the ships and surveyors who will carry out inspection?
Ans. Yes it is, ‘The Guidelines for flag State Inspections’, under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). This book contains an important resource for implementing flag State responsibilities under the MLC, 2006. They were adopted by the ILO in September 2008 together with Guidelines for Port State Control Officers carrying out inspections under the MLC, 2006. It provides practical advice to competent authorities in flag States and to flag State inspectors, or Recognized Organizations, on how to carry out ship inspections and certifications to verify compliance with the requirements of the MLC, 2006 as implemented nationally.

Chapter 1 contains an overview of the special features of the MLC 2006 and its key concepts.
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the procedures for ship inspection and certification, including areas of national flexibility, and processes for responding to complaints.
Chapter 3, provides the main inspection tool by indicating the basic requirements to be complied with, a list of items showing how to check the basic requirements and examples of deficiencies, in connection with these requirements.
Chapter 4 provides guidance on actions to be taken when deficiencies are found and when a ship may have to be detained.

Q. What is the provision in respect of young seafarers?
Ans. All seafarers must be aged 16 years or above. Valid training and competency certificates are available for all seafarers, confirming their competency or qualification to perform their duties. Documentary evidence is available to indicate that the private seafarer recruitment and placement service (SRPS) or agency. In respect of the seafarers under 18 years of age (Young Seafarers), evidence that no night work is undertaken and that no tasks that are likely to jeopardise their safety or health are undertaken. The medical certificate valid for a maximum of one (1) year.

(“night” depends on national law and practice, but it must be a period of at least nine (9) hours, starting no later than midnight and ending no earlier than 5:00 am).

Q. What is the provision regarding the medical certification?
Ans. Valid medical certificates must be available for all seafarers on board and must be issued prior to beginning work on a ship. It must be issued by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner and be valid for a period not exceeding the flag state’s requirements, or a period of two years. whichever is the shortest. Certificate must be in English and in a format acceptable to the flag state. It must provide details of hearing/sight/colour vision. The validity period for colour vision will not exceed the flag state’s requirements, or six years, whichever is shortest. Certificate must include a statement to say that the seafarer is fit for duties.

Q, What is the provision regarding the Seafarers’ Employment Agreements?
Ans. Seafarers’ Employment Agreements must be available for all seafarers on board and must be signed by the seafarer and the shipowner, or his authorised representative. The copies of the SEA and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) (if applicable) must be available on board. English translations of the SEA and CBA must be available on board. The SEA must contain the items required by MLC 2006 and any other particulars that the flag state’s law may require, including; a notice period for early termination of the SEA of not less than seven days and the right to terminate the contract for compassionate reasons.

Q. What are the provisions in respect of wages?
Ans. Wages must be paid in accordance with the SEA (and CBA, if any) and are made at no greater than monthly intervals. An individual monthly statement of account must be provided to all seafarers on board, indicating their monthly wage and any authorized deductions, such as allotments. No deductions should be made from a seafarer’s remuneration in respect of obtaining or retaining employment. Seafarers have the right to make an allotment of all or part of their earnings. Charges for the allotments and exchange rates should be reasonable and in accordance with the flag state’s requirements. There should be no unauthorised deductions, such as payments for travel to or from the ship

Q. What has been said about hours of rest and work?
Ans. A table of shipboard working arrangements for all positions on board must be posted in an accessible place or places. An English translation is available. Accurate and duly signed records of hours of work and rest must be available for all seafarers. Normal working hours are based on 8 hours per day, with a minimum one day of rest per week and rest on public holidays. Maximum working hours are 14 hours in any 24 hour period / 72 hours in any 7 day period. Minimum rest hours are 10 hours in any 24 hour period / 77 hours in any 7 day period. The daily rest period is divided into two periods, one of which is of at least 6 hours duration. Muster drills / Compensatory rest / hours of work in cases of emergency, etc are considered. “Hours of rest” does not include short breaks.

Q. How much leave is allowed and who pays for repatriation?
Ans. All seafarers have minimum annual leave with pay based on 2.5 days per month of employment. All seafarers are entitled to repatriation after a maximum 12 months period as stated in the SEA or in case of termination for justified reasons (by the shipowner or seafarer) orwhen they are not able to carry out their duties on board due to illness, injury, etc. Repatriation costs, including tickets, meals, accommodation, luggage and medical expenses are covered by the shipowner, except in cases of serious default of the employment terms by the seafarer.

Q. How is the cleanliness and hygiene of crew accommodation ensured?
Ans. Records of the Master’s inspections of the vessel’s accommodation must be maintained and available. Accommodation spaces must be clean and in a good state, withfixtures and fittings to be in place and in good working order. Mess rooms must be clean, hygienic and comfortable. Issues regarding; hot and cold running water; cleanliness of bedding; heating, ventilation, including air conditioning, where fitted; the laundry facilities;  adequacy of natural and artificial light; noise and vibration; recreational facilities; ship-to-shore telecommunications, email and internet facilities;  etc are stated.

Q. What are the important considerations about food and catering?
Ans. The galley and spaces used for the storage of food are clean, hygienic and in a good state of repair. Temperature of refrigerators and freezers must be appropriate. Quality food and water in due quantity free of charge must be provided. Caterers for different religious beliefs to be onboard. The cook to be over 18 years of age. All catering staff to be adequately trained. For ships with less than 10 crew no cook is required, but the crew handling food are to be trained in food related matters.

Q. What medical and health related protection is available?
Ans. Health protection and medical care, including essential dental care, is available and free of charge to all seafarers. They have the right to visit a qualified medical doctor or dentist without delay in ports of call, where practicable. The ship’s hospital is to be clean and hygienic and for medical use only. Approved medical equipment, Medical publications, etc are available on board. Log and record of visit reports, accidents and incidents are are kept up to date. An up-to-date list of radio contacts where medical advice can be obtained is readily available. For ships carrying 100 or more persons and ordinarily engaged on international voyages of more than three days, a qualified medical doctor is onboard.

In respect of safety and accident prevention, the applicable Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy, procedures and programs must be in place and meet the flag state’s legal OHS requirements. OHS related policies and procedures are to be clearly designated and documented. Risk Assessments, investigations and reporting are to be carried out and documented. Safety Committee Meetings are to be held regularly and minutes are to be available. Awareness, responsibilities, familiarization in this respect of all is important and the same is  clearly documented. Safe Working Practices are implemented. PPE items are to be in-date. Appropriate measures are in place to address OHS risks associated with fatigue, drug and alcohol use, smoking, Asbestos, high and low temperatures, noise and vibration, infections etc.

Q. What protocol must be followed in respect of seafarers’ complaints?
Ans. There must be a complaints procedure and a complaints log on board. Each seafarer to have a copy of the procedure. Complaints must be handled in a timely, fair and effective manner. The contact details are to be available for the flag state and the competent authority in the seafarer’s country of residence.

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