Maritime News

ITF welcomes new provisions to help stranded crew

31 January 2017

The ITF has given a warm welcome to new international provisions that will protect crew who are abandoned by their shipowners.

The provisions are contained in amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) – which sets minimum terms and conditions for seafarers worldwide – that came into force on 18 January 2017.

The MLC has now been extended to ensure better protection to seafarers and their families in the event of abandonment, death and long-term disability. Shipowners are now required to have a financial security system to ensure compensation to seafarers and their families affected by abandonment, death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard. Ships will be required to carry certificates to show they have such a financial security system, and foreign ships entering states where the MLC is in force will be inspected to check this, with action taken if the documentation is missing or incomplete.

ITF seafarers section chair David Heindel described the new provisions as “the biggest potential change for seafarers since the landmark MLC itself.”

He continued: "These mechanisms finally give us a means with which to fight abandonment, long one of the ugliest aspects of life at sea and the flag of convenience system. The ITF has worked for well over a decade alongside the ILO, governments and shipping organisations to make this happen, and we consider these new provisions to be deeply important."

He concluded: “We want seafarers to understand what the changes mean – in particular the need to check that there is a valid insurance certificate on board and call for help as soon as abandonment occurs. This information is available in many languages at and in posters for use in missions, union offices and on board ships."

Welcoming the new provisions, ITF general secretary Steve Cotton commented that: “All parties must now work together to ensure that they are put into action, and address those areas in the world where there’s an absence of MLC ratification.”

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