Maritime Labour Convention 2006: Implications
by Paolo Moretti, RINA
Each ship of 500GT or over, engaged in international voyages, shall carry and maintain a Maritime Labour Certificate issued by the competent authority or a recognised organisation, and valid for a period not exceeding five years, subject to an intermediate inspection to ensure continuing compliance.
Every foreign ship calling in the port of a member may be inspected to review her compliance with the requirements of the MLC. A valid certificate shall be accepted as prima facie evidence of compliance with the requirements of the convention.
However, a more detailed inspection may be carried out where the port state control officer finds that:
The Maritime Labour Certificate and the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) are incorrect or not properly maintained;
There are clear grounds for believing that the working and living conditions on the ship do not conform to the requirements of the MLC;
There are reasonable grounds to believe that the ship has changed flag for the purpose of avoiding compliance with the convention; or
There is a complaint alleging that specific working and living conditions on the ship do not conform to the requirements of the convention.
If the ship is found not to conform to the requirements of the MLC, and depending on the nature of the nonconformity found, the ship may be detained until the nonconformities have been rectified.
Impact for superyachts
The MLC will apply to large yachts in commercial service, although some relaxations will be admitted for boats with a gross tonnage less than 200GT.
The new standards for accommodation and recreational facilities are a significant achievement, in particular for those seafarers operating in ocean going commercial vessels. Nevertheless, it appears that these rules were drawn up with no consideration for the superyacht industry.
Joint studies carried out by the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss), the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) and the PYA (Professional Yachtmans Association) have demonstrated that the 80 per cent of the existing large yachts (30m plus) are unable to fully comply in certain areas of the convention, particularly in the dimensions of crew cabin areas.
Studies show it is extremely difficult for yachts between 200GT and 500GT to comply with the convention and maintain the same number of guests and crew.
It was originally thought that only yachts between 200GT and 500GT would have difficulty in complying with the convention, however that was based on the notion that a sliding scale for yachts in this size would be applied.
The thinking on this as a way of complying with the MLC has now changed and further studies will be conducted.
The superyacht building industry is looking for the following specifically:
Guidance from flag states and the ILO as to how the industry can comply with MLC and maintain the significant numbers of jobs for seafarers as well as those designing, building and supplying superyacht services from all over the world.
A sliding scale approach for the full compliance with the requirements of the crew cabins dimension, ranging from 70 per cent compliance at 200GT to 90 per cent at just under 500GT (yachts over 500GT will have to fully comply with the convention). No exemptions are requested but just a substantial equivalence to compensate crews for having cabins that are smaller than they are entitled to under the MLC, focusing on how yachts operate, crew time off and aggregated days in port after long ocean voyages.
Exemptions for yachts of traditional design. These yachts are to include wooden, racing and J Class yachts.
Exemption from the hospital requirements for those yachts principally used for coastal navigation. For these yachts on longer voyages a cabin must be assigned for medical purposes.The Maritime Labour Convention has noble intentions but could also pose some serious threats to an industry that is struggling to recover from the present economic crisis.
Originally published: May 2010.