Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Maritime Labour Convention To Go Into Effect in 43 Countries

By Pr. Marsh Drege
Executive Director, Seafarers & International House

On Aug. 20, 2013 the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, (MLC) went into effect for the 43 countries that have ratified it. It needed at least 30 countries to be ratified, which happened in August 2012.

Coordinated by the International Labour Organization (ILO), an organization recognized by the United Nations, which is like a union, the MLC provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers. The MLC calls for “decent work for seafarers and secure economic interests in fair competition for quality ship owners.” The convention “consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards related to the Maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years,” according to the ILO. 

The ILO has been developing and maintaining labor standards since 1919, and has set forth many conventions over the years. A convention is an agreement or compact, particularly an international agreement. One of the most well known is the Geneva Convention. The MLC 2006 is the latest one to be ratified.

The rights and working conditions of seafarers are at the heart of SIH’s mission, and we support the MLC. However, the lack of the U.S. ratification is disheartening. The United States isn’t among the 43 countries that have ratified it, which means, the MLC won’t be in effect when ships come into our ports.

We do understand, however, that the United States supports the MLC and wants to ratify it, and it’s just a matter of time before it will be done. Governmental red tape and bureaucracy has held it up. It most probably will be voted on and approved in the next year.

The ratifying countries where it will go into effect on Aug. 20 are: Antiqua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Greece, Kiribati, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tuvalu, and Vietnam.

Maritime law is very complicated because ships travel the world and standards and regulations vary from ship to ship, country to country, and port to port. We at SIH are happy that the MLC 2006 is going into effect in many countries in August, and implore our legislators to ratify it soon for the United States.

SIH will continue to advocate for fair and safe working conditions and benefits for the seafarers, without whom we wouldn’t have access to all the goods and products made around the world.

If you’d like more information on seafarers rights, or would like to discuss what you can do, contact Chris Roehrer at cvr@sih.org. Visit www.sihnyc.org for more information.

-- The Rev. Marsh Drege is an ordained minister for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

About Seafarers & International House
SIH is a mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  It was founded in 1873 as an Augustana Lutheran mission from Sweden on the premise that we are all called to welcome the stranger. Working at sea or immigrating to a new country is a lonely experience, and SIH welcomes these seafarers and asylum-seekers with pastoral care, hospitality, social assistance, advocacy and prayer, seeking to nurture the human spirit, and foster human dignity. SIH serves in the ports in New York/New Jersey, Connecticut/Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The chaplains meet incoming ships, provide phones and Internet connections for the seafarers to call home, and take them into town to shop, sightsee or get a bite to eat. SIH also provides overnight accommodations, counseling, social work and support services to asylum-seekers at its offices and guesthouse at 123 East 15th St. in Manhattan.  Its website is www.sihnyc.org.

1 comment:

  1. Good to receive this information. Thanks for telling it like it is!!