The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 enters into force in Australia and internationally today, modernising more than 60 existing international labour standards going back over eight decades.
There are 1.2 million seafarers in the world and their work is often hard, dangerous and out of sight of the general public.
The Convention sets out in minimum working and living conditions for the world’s seafarers. Often referred to as the seafarers’ bill of rights, the Convention covers matters such as minimum standards for their employment, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health care, welfare and social security protection.
It is unique because it aims both to achieve decent work for seafarers and fair competition by creating a level playing field for the majority of shipowners and operators who do the right thing.
Australia ratified the Convention in December 2011 making us one of the first 30 countries to bring it into force. More than forty-five other countries have since followed suit.
Compliance with the Convention will be secured through formal inspection and certification procedures, shipowners' and shipmasters' supervision of conditions on ships, flag State jurisdiction and control over local ships and port State inspection of foreign ships. In Australia, surveyors from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will be empowered to inspect all ships at Australian ports to ensure they comply with the requirements of the Convention.
The Government, shipowners and unions have been working on the implementation of the MLC in Australia since it was adopted in 2006. In particular we commend the work of Paddy Crumlin from the International Transport Workers Federation and Teresa Lloyd from the Australian Shipowners’ Association. The first Australian flagged international trading ship, Northwest Stormpetrel received all of the necessary certificates earlier this month.
The application of the Convention follows the 1 July commencement of the Navigation Act 2012 and the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012. Together they represent the biggest reforms to Australia’s maritime sector in more than a century.
Shipping is a crucial part of the Australian transport system with almost all our imports and exports carried by ship. Our reforms will grow Australia’s maritime industry and cement Australia’s standing as a shipping nation.