Prevention at Sea

MLC Abandonment Provisions Enter into Force

Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) shipowners must now have insurance to assist the seafarers on board vessels if they are abandoned.
All ships, to which the convention applies, whose flag states have ratified the MLC must have the insurance certificate on board and on show in English as of January 18.
Abandonment occurs when the shipowner:

- fails to cover the cost of the seafarer’s repatriation; or
- has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support; or
- has otherwise unilaterally severed their ties with the seafarer including failure to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months’
The insurance will cover seafarers for up to four months’ outstanding wages and entitlements. The insurance must also cover reasonable expenses such as repatriation, food, clothing where necessary, accommodation, drinking water, essential fuel for survival on board and any necessary medical care. It will apply from the moment of abandonment to the time of arrival back home.
Over 70 nations have so far ratified the Convention which entered into force in 2013. This now includes all of the major seafarer supply nations, with China ratifying the Convention in 2015.
The ITF (International Transport Workers has welcomed the entry into force. ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “At last the fundamental idea that those who send seafarers to sea have a responsibility for them is enshrined in regulation.”
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton commented: “These new provisions are deeply significant, and a worthy addition to the hugely significant MLC itself. All parties must now work together to ensure that they are put into action and address those areas in the world where there’s an absence of MLC ratification.”

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