(MLC) Ratification and introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention

Circular No: NP/0210/13


Our ref: S5/05/01/13

20th August 2013

Dear Colleagues

Ratification and introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

Further to the circular S5/05/01/13 of 29th April 2013, the UK Government ratified the MLC on 7th August. Today, the Convention became international law, so it now applies across the world and not just in ratifying countries.

The MLC is a set of minimum and enforceable rights for all seafarers across the world. It brings together the 68 International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards covering seafarers and the maritime industry that have been adopted over the past 80 years into one legally binding Convention.

In the UK, the MLC will make a small number of significant changes to the working lives of the 89,000 seafarers working on UK flagged ships. These are the main changes:
•    Crewing agreements are replaced by individual Seafarer Employment Agreements which both the employer and the seafarer must keep copies of during a journey.
•    Seafarers are legally entitled to free repatriation at the end of a voyage.
•    Minimum entitlement to paid annual leave is set at 2.5 days per month of employment, not including public holidays. This should result in a minimum of 30 days paid annual leave, plus 8 days for or in lieu of public holidays.

The MCA has responsibility for ensuring that shipping companies are MLC compliant, including non-UK flagged vessels working from UK ports. It remains to be seen how the MCA will cope with this new regulatory responsibility when they are contending with a budget cut of 22% to 2014-15 and the union will be monitoring closely the level of employer compliance.

If RMT seafarers encounter any problems with MLC compliance, particularly the content of the Seafarer Employment Agreement with the employer, it is vital that members contact their union for advice and assistance. The introduction of the MLC will not have a big impact on seafarers’ terms and conditions of employment but members should be wary of any attempts by employers to exploit this regulatory change to undermine existing terms and conditions. It is worth repeating that employers cannot use the MLC to reduce existing provision where it may be higher or better than the minimum standards set out in the MLC.

In addition, copies of the ITF guide to the MLC have been sent to every Shipping Branch. If members require any further copies of the guide please contact Dan Crimes at d.crimes@rmt.org.uk and we will order more from the ITF.

I would be grateful if you could bring this circular to the attention of members and I will keep you updated with any further developments in the maritime industry’s adoption of the MLC.

Yours sincerely

Bob Crow
General Secretary