Shipping has a long history of multinational crewing. One hundred years ago, maritime unions, shipowners, and government representatives sat down to discuss the first moves to regulate this globalized workforce. They recognize that seafarers would be most effectively protected by a uniform law.
After the first World War, there was a strong desire to build a better world. The International Labour Organization (ILO) was formed as part of the Versailles peace treaty. The ILO sought to set global standards for working conditions.
However, there was a recognition that the shipping industry was a special case deserving of special treatment. The ILO decided to devote the whole of its second conference in the following year to maritime matters. The most notable questions about the implementation at sea were the eight-hour day and 48-hour week. It has been adopted as the standard for industry ashore.
The commission’s final draft reached broad agreement on:
All of these conventions ultimately found their way into the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) of 2006. MLC 2006 united the provisions of 36 ILO conventions and one protocol adopted between 1920 and 1996.
The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) entered into force on 20th August 2013. It aims to achieve decent work for seafarers and to secure economic interests through fair competition for quality ship owners.
The convention consists of the sixteen articles containing general provisions as well as the Code. The Code consists of five Titles in which specific provisions are grouped by standard (or in Title 5: mode of enforcement):
The Maritime Labour Convention provides a comprehensive set of basic maritime labour principles. This ensures all seafarers secure their basic employment rights. The working environment and living conditions have largely improved. They are able to make their opinions known to the shipowner. At the same time, the shipowner has a clear identification of his/her overall responsibility.