ratification and introduction of the maritime labour convention (MLC)

Dear Colleagues

Ratification and introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

Further to the circular S5/05/01/12 of 11th May 2012, I write to update you on the progress in introducing the Maritime Labour Convention into UK law.

Since the first phase of consultation in summer 2012, the union agreed to the Department for Transport’s request that the consultation period be reduced from 12 weeks where possible, in order to speed up the ratification process. The union has since responded to consultations on wages, repatriation and Seafarers Employment Agreements. The consultation on recruitment and placement businesses closes later this week and we await the dates and documents for the consultations on minimum age and health and safety.

Copies of RMT responses to each area of the MLC consultation are placed on the union’s website at: http://www.rmt.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeId=159354

Contrary to what the union had previously been led to believe by the MCA, the MLC will come into force in this country after the UK Government ratifies it. This is because the UK was not in the first group of countries to ratify the MLC; countries in that group introduce the MLC one year after the date of ratification.

The MCA expect the UK Government to ratify the Convention by late August 2013 but any delays in the process of passing all legislative changes may result in that date slipping.

For UK seafarers the most significant changes brought in by the MLC will be:

· A minimum of 30 days paid annual leave, plus 8 days for or in lieu of public holidays.

· Introduction of Seafarer Employment Agreements between individual seafarers and the employer, replacing the system of contracted crew lists.

· A right to free repatriation for all seafarers working on UK ships, underpinned by a system of shipowner liability.

· A system of licensing for recruitment agencies and businesses in the maritime sector [RMT is arguing for a mandatory system of licensing to be adopted].

· Introduction of measures to allow seafarers to transmit all or a proportion of their earnings to a nominated family member, without incurring excessive charges.

· Significant reduction, from 5 years, in the amount of sea time required before qualifying as a Ships’ Cook.

Prior to UK ratification of the Convention, we advise that your current terms of employment are applicable. Negotiations between the union and employers over the contractual changes resulting from the introduction of the MLC will begin after Government has ratified the Convention.

Once the consultation process is completed your union will provide shipping members with a comprehensive update on the impact of the MLC.

Yours sincerely

Bob Crow

General Secretary