Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Piracy at Sea Back in the Headlines as Rights of Seafarers Held as Hostages Reviewed

Guarantee of Employment Rights Will Continue Under MLC 2006 Amendment
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – A recent meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee (STC) of the International Labor Organization (ILO) saw the agreement of a new amendment to the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006, improving employment rights for seafarers in the event that a seafarer is held hostage as a result of piracy or armed robbery against their vessel.

The STC has agreed on the new amendment to the MLC 2006, which will now be submitted to the next session of the International Labor Conference for adoption. The amendment, when it enters into force, will ensure that seafarers’ wages and other contractual entitlements will continue to be paid during the entire period of captivity. General Secretary of the maritime union, Nautilus, Mark Dickinson, commented:

“The agreement on this important amendment to protect seafarers’ wages is very welcome, but we hope that future meetings of the STC can move on to address other equally important aspects of the convention that need improvement, such as the paid annual leave, sickness, social protection aspects and new issues that need incorporating such as pensions/retirement savings which we know from our own member surveys are desperately needed.

“What we need now as seafarers is a long-term strategy to continuously improve the MLC - so the work on that starts now.”

The week-long meeting also saw the seafarers’ and ship owners’ groups jointly table three resolutions calling for action by governments on vital issues such as the facilitation of shore leave and seafarer abandonment. The seafarers group also tabled a resolution calling for the ILO to consider convening a sectoral meeting to discuss decent work standards in the inland navigation sector. Dave Heindel, Chair of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ section, and Spokesperson for the seafarers’ delegation at the ILO session said:

“This result has been a critical step forward for seafarer protections. With the agreement of the ship owners and member States, we managed to secure an amendment on wage protections, a resolution on shore leave, one on crew abandonment and one for the inland navigation sector, which will provide a way forward for our colleagues working on tugs and inland equipment. Overall, I believe the week was successful for all in the maritime sector.

“The MLC has entered a new chapter today. We have always known how challenging this would be to propose such an amendment and we are pleased that the seafarers’ position has been recognised by the social partners and governments, as a necessary instrument to provide Seafarers with a greater protections.”

Photo: Four South Korean hostages taken from the MT Gemini in 2011 who were retained by their captors even after a ransom was paid.