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Commission welcomes amendments to international maritime law to further protect seafarers

Commission welcomes amendments to international maritime law to further protect seafarers © Shutterstock / Igor Filchakov

The European Commission welcomes today's adoption by the Council of the European Union of a decision that supports amendments to the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention to further protect seafarers from abandonment and ensure quick compensation in case of death or disability.

Under the new provisions, ships will be required to carry certificates or other documents to establish that financial security exists to protect seafarers working on board. Failure to provide this protection may mean that a ship can be detained in a port.

These amendments are to be adopted at the June 2014 session of the International Labour Conference.

The ILO Maritime Labour Convention

The Maritime Labour Convention establishes minimum working and living standards for all seafarers working on ships flying the flags of ratifying countries.

Recognising the importance of this International Convention, the Union has adopted several legislative instruments to ensure the consistent and effective implementation by its Member States and enforcing the Maritime Labour Convention to all ships calling into one of the EU ports.

In addition, in November 2013 the European Commission presented a proposal to include seafarers in several EU labour law Directives, which complements standards of the Maritime Labour Convention as implemented in EU law.

Protection in case of ship abandonment

According to ILO’s Abandonment of Seafarers Database, as of March 2014, there were 159 abandoned merchant ships, some dating back to 2006 with abandonment cases still unresolved. Many abandoned seafarers are aboard ships without pay, often for several months, and lack regular food supplies, medical care or means to return home.

The draft amendments concern the provision of financial support to better protect seafarers from the consequences of abandonment in ports.

Compensation in case of sickness, injury or death

According to the draft amendments, ship owners shall respect a set of additional minimum requirements for the financial support they provide to ensure that seafarers are protected from the financial consequences of sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment.

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