NZ to ratify Convention for seafarers’ rights

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 48, June 2015

New Zealand is set to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention – to help ensure fair treatment of seafarers, create conditions of fair competition for shipowners, and protect the reputation of New Zealand exports.

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) is an international treaty adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that sets minimum standards for the health, safety and welfare of seafarers on larger commercial vessels.

New Zealand is aiming to be a party to the Convention by the end of the year. It would then enter in to force for New Zealand a year later.

The Convention will apply to about 890 foreign commercial cargo and cruise ships visiting New Zealand annually, and 31 New Zealand ships. It covers commercial vessels of 200 gross tonnage or more, and operating outside the in-shore limits.

Ratifying the Convention will give New Zealand the power to inspect and verify that crew on foreign ships carrying New Zealand goods are treated fairly and within internationally accepted standards.

Maritime New Zealand is currently preparing draft Maritime Rule amendments that will give effect to the Convention requirements not currently reflected in New Zealand law.

New Zealand law, which applies to New Zealand registered ships, is already largely consistent with the Convention.

In adopting the Convention the ILO recognised that while many flag states and ship owners take pride in providing seafarers with decent conditions of work, they can face unfair competition when undercut by those operating substandard ships.

The decision by the ILO to create the MLC was the result of a joint resolution in 2001 by the international seafarers’ and shipowners’ organisations, later supported by Governments.

As shipping is the “world’s first genuinely global industry”, it was decided the shipping sector needed a more effective enforcement and compliance system that would help eliminate substandard ships.

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