The European Commission has agreed to the adoption of a proposal by its maritime social partners to improve the working conditions of seafarers on board of EU-flagged vessels by updating the agreement on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), commonly referred to as the ‘seafarers bill of rights‘.
The MLC 2006 sets minimum requirements to improve seafarers’ working and living conditions including recruitment and placement practices, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, repatriation, annual leave, payment of wages, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, occupational safety and health, medical care, onshore welfare services and social protection.
The proposal, offered by “European Maritime Social Partners” the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), adds additional protection to seafarers against future cases of abandonment in foreign ports, and will strengthen their rights to compensation in the event of death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard. The ILO MLC amendments entered into force on 18 January 2017.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Maritime transport remains crucial for Europe’s economic development. Today’s proposal will strengthen seafarers’ protection and underpin fair competition in the maritime sector. Improved working conditions will also make the shipping sector more attractive for young Europeans. This proposal is an excellent example of how social partners support the Commission in keeping EU law fit for purpose.”
The European Maritime Social Partners warmly welcomed the EC’s adoption of the proposal.
ETF spokesperson Mark Dickinson, said, “It is important that ECSA and ETF are able to keep their European agreement on the MLC up to date as we must not forget this Convention is a living instrument for the continued improvement of seafarers’ living and working conditions. We are therefore very pleased that the Commission has supported us in our aims by adopting our proposals for amending the Agreement on the MLC to incorporate the amendments made by the ILO in 2014. We hope that they will be similarly adopted by the Council with the minimum delay.”
This is the third occasion on which the maritime Social Partners have agreed to make legally-binding European agreements. The first was the Agreement on Working Time for Seafarers and the second the agreement on the MLC. “We are proud of what we have achieved through the maritime social dialogue. Our constructive relations and co-operation have resulted in numerous joint projects and campaigns to assist shipowners and seafarers in Europe. We have also agreed an ambitious work programme for the next biennium” ECSA’s spokesperson, Tim Springett said.