The Special Tripartite Committee established in accordance with Article XIII of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 has held its first meeting in Geneva this month.

During the meeting, the Committee agreed a number of important amendments to the MLC to ensure the provision of financial security for seafarers in the event that they are abandoned and also for compensation for seafarers’ contractual claims for death and personal injury.

ISF spokesperson Arthur Bowring, leading the Shipowner Group in the discussions, is reported to have stated “ The MLC, 2006 is intended to bring social justice and fair competition to the Shipping Industry and the lack of a specific reference to abandonment in the mandatory instruments of ILO and IMO was an omission that needed comprehensive action.

He went on to note that “Shipowners have a responsibility for seafarers under their contractual employment arrangements, and the problems created when the seafarers are abandoned needed specific legislative measures.  The new amendments not only provide that safeguard but also recognize the role to be played by flag states and labor supply states.”

Whilst abandonment is in fact a relatively rare occurrence, ISF members were shown an ILO video where the crew of a vessel had been without financial or welfare support from the shipowner for over twelve months.

The amendments agreed at the STC meeting have been welcomed by seafarer rights groups as providing greater security for crew.

These amendments now need to be approved at the June meeting of the International Labour Conference and 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.

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