Thursday, May 20, 2010

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE

Those of us who make our living from the sea are used to the Rules and Regulations of modern seagoing life. To a degree these now effect the recreational boater as well. We have the USCG, IMO, MCA, SOLAS, STCW, and MARPOL to learn about and follow. In addition we now have MLC 2006 - what you ask?

Lets begin at the beginning. Unfortunately all to many shipowners are hiring their crews from countries that have or enforce little or no fair labour practices. Once the crew is hired pays an exit tax to their government that government could care less what happens to them. When the voyage goes under it is usually left up to The Seaman's Church Institute and the International Transport Workers Federation to find out about them, support them and repatriate them home.

This behaviour resulted in another UN agency The International Labor Organization (ILO) getting involved in maritime affairs. The ILO sets working conditions and regulates labor standards by setting international conventions. The Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 set by the ILO combined some 65 existing international labor standards. It seeks to make them fully applicable and enforceable universally to both privately and commercially owned registered vessels.

The MLC consists of two sections Part A sets the minimum standards which all MLC vessels must meet. Part B consists of guidelines which are intended to be informative and offer guidance to reflect national laws of those nations adopting MLC 2006. Once a country has ratified the MLC 2006, it is required to enforce the standards as Flag State. It is envisioned that MLC 2006 will be in full effect by 2012 in maritime nations.

An article published in the June 2010 edition of a "SHOWBOATS INTERNATIONAL" yachting magazine draws attention to MLC 2006 as it effects the yachting industry. There is concern that since the yachting industry did not organize itself to be fully represented at MLC 2006 there was no industry input. Now that the MLC 2006 is being ratified it will fully apply to yachts as it will to other vessels. Well better late than never NAUTICAL LOG supposes so there is movement afoot with the ILO to address the 'special' needs of the super yachts and the charter yacht industry. Their claim for 'exemptions' is that because of the nature of the industry it is not possible for them to meet requirements to satisfy MLC 2006. NAUTICAL LOG seems to remember something similar when MCA was setting the yachting standards.

It is somewhat disingenuous however to read the claims and then to turn over the magazine pages. One views magnificent vessels costing in one case $35,000,000 with owners suites covering entire decks. The builders comment on the difficulty of providing 75 square feet of cabin space for two crew which cannot include the footprint of the head. They must also have a desk and a 132 gallon cupboard - that's what it says - such an imposition on an owner of a super yacht like the one mentioned above.


Is it any wonder these UN Agencies get involved in maritime affairs and write labor standards such as MLC 2006?

Good Watch.

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