Maritime News

African maritime unions commit to new labour convention

2 November 2012

ITF maritime combined conference in Madagascar*
Affiliates from across the region at the Africa combined maritime conference*

A major meeting in which African ITF maritime affiliates laid out their commitment to gaining support and further ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), took place in Madagascar from 16-18 October.

The MLC, established in 2006, will come into force in August 2013 after the required ratification by 30 countries was reached earlier this year. Ratification is a major breakthrough for seafarers’ rights with the MLC providing a comprehensive set of work place protections for the 1.2 million seafarers around the world.
Docker and seafarer affiliates, as well as those from inland navigation and fisheries unions, from across the region attended the Africa combined maritime conference. During the meet they pledged to work together to engage national centres and gain support for campaigns designed to achieve ratification of the MLC and convention 188 on fisheries in their own countries, in order to deliver maximum benefits for rank and file members. So far Benin, Gabon and Togo are the African countries amongst the 30 MLC ratifications.
As well as making their own commitments, maritime unions were giving feedback to the ITF about the kind of support they should aim to provide to unions moving forward to help ensure the African workforce is ready to meet economic changes in the region. Amongst the recommendations was the creation of a strategic group to assist with preparation for campaigns and discussion over key issues like getting a fair share of the jobs in emerging oil and gas industries. To this end a planning workshop early in 2013 was suggested, to lay appropriate strategies on skills training for gas and oil jobs such as working with maritime schools.
ITF Africa regional secretary Joe Katende said: “The emerging job opportunities in Africa’s oil and gas exploitation are great but they could also become the greatest poverty trap and environmental puzzle unless maritime unions in Africa take quick steps to learn from the experiences of other ITF affiliates who have been through similar developments already. African maritime workers must work hard and smart to learn new skills or reorient and sharpen existing skills to fit in with the offshore job market and there will need to be tough negotiations with government bodies in all sub-regions to ensure a fair share of decent jobs.”

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