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What the MLC means for cruise crews

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Johan Oyen, chair of the ITF cruise ship taskforce explains the difference the Maritime Labour Convention will make for cruise ship crews

The ITF believes that the MLC will have an impact on all workers of the maritime industry, but especially on those working in the cruise industry.

For the first time ever, within the MLC a clear definition is given of who is a seafarer. To quote Article 2, a seafarer is: “any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship to which this convention applies”.

The concept is revolutionary because it certifies that all workers on a cruise vessel engaged in international voyages are now defined as seafarers, which is a definitive acknowledgment compared to the ambiguity of the past when, with the exception of the nautical crew, everyone else could be unsure about the applicatlon of maritime instruments because of uncertainty as to whether they were seafarers or not.

The benefits that the MLC will bring to contractual and working life on board a cruise vessel are major. For example, the MLC requires flag states to have an effective control over manning agents or hiring parties to avoid seafarers being charged fees or costs that in fact should be limited only to professional certificates, passports and national statutory medical certificates.

It also provides seafarers with an easily-accessible process by which they can report breaches of the convention, either to flag
states or to port state control officers – and it empowers the role of seafarers’ organisations to assist any seafarer who might be the victim of abuse and discrimination.

Contractual medical care whilst in employment, financial security with insurance cover for seafarers, and the prevention of accidents and implementation of safety measures are all concepts contained in the MLC.

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