The European Maritime Space as a Framework for Work at Sea: Seafarers' Working and Living Conditions and Human Rights

AutorJoseph Roger Carby-Hall
Cargo del AutorUniversity of Hull
The European Maritime Space
as a Framework for Work at Sea:
Seafarers’ Working and Living
Conditions and Human Rights
Joseph Roger CARBY-HALL
University of Hull
Summary: 1. Introduction. 2. European Union Support for the ILO’s Maritime Labour
Convention 2006 (as amended). 2.1. The Acquis Communautaire. 2.2. Eective Com-
pliance and Enforcement Instruments. 3. Conclusions.
There exist three strands to the seafarers working and living conditions
and human rights at sea. The rst and initial strand is the International Labour
Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (as amended).1 The second
strand is the transposition by the European Union of large parts of the ILO’s
Maritime Labour Convention 2006 into European law achieved through the
sectorial social dialogue committee for maritime transport.2 The third strand
1 Adopted in Geneva 94th ILO Session (23rd February 2006)
2 Council Directive 2009/13/EC See too the European Community Ship-owners’ As-
sociation 2007 Green Paper entitled «Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union»
consists of the countries which ratied the ILO Convention mentioning briey
the United Kingdom as an example of one such State.3
The ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention 2006, as amended,4 constituting
the rst strand, provides, to quote Mr Juan Somavia, Director General of the
International Labour Oce, a seafarers’ « new ‘bill of rights’ for the maritime
sector: A model for globalisation.»5 It has been described as «an internation-
al maritime labour code»6 which treats international minimum standards for
the world’s maritime industry in one document. Its goal is twofold, namely to
achieve decent work for seafarers7 and to secure economic interests by means
of fair competition for quality ship owners. Thus, decent working conditions
go hand in hand with simultaneously helping to ensure fair competition for
quality ship owners operating under the ag of countries which ratied the
ECSA. Brussels and the European Community Ship-owners’ Association and the Eu-
ropean Transport Workers’ Federation (2006) Press release ECSA. Brussels.
3 As of September 2018 the MLC 2006 which entered into force on 29th August, 2013
was ratied by 88 countries which represent some 93% of global shipping. In spite of
the ILO Convention not having been ratied worldwide, it has global eect because,
as will be mentioned later, ships from non-signatory countries which enter ports of
signatory countries could face arrest and other penalties for non-compliance with the
MLC provisions. The United Kingdom ratied the MLC, 2006 on 7th August 2013
which entered into force on 7th August 2014.
4 The MLC 2006 was adopted by government, employer and worker representatives at
a special ILO International Labour Conference in February 2006. Amendments were
made in 2014 with a date of entry into force on 18th January, 2017; in 2016 with entry
into force on 8th January, 2018 and 2018 with an expected entry into force on 26th
December, 2020.
5 Source: International Labour Oce Statements, 2006 at p. 1.
6 See Ioannis Stribis, «The 2006 Maritime Labour Convention: A Cautious Step Towards
Gender Awareness?» in «Gender and the Law of the Sea» Irini Papanicolopulu (Ed) Brill
Nijho., Leiden.Boston (2019) at p. 889
7 It is estimated that 1.5 million seafarers round the world whose work is essential to
international trade including the increasingly important cruise ship industry, have
beneted from the Convention. Source:
time-labour-convention/what-it-does/WCM... (Retrieved 24th April 2019)

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