GENEVA- On 21st February 2011, Mr Dante Martinelli, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and Specialized Agencies, deposited the Switzerland’s instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) with the International Labour Office.
Switzerland is the 12th Member State, the 6th European country, and the first landlocked State with maritime interests, to ratify the MLC, 2006. The Swiss ratification gives a major boost to the ratification campaign launched by the ILO Director-General in December 2010 inviting member States to ratify the MLC, 2006 either on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of its adoption in February 2011 or at the equally symbolic 100th session of the International Labour Conference in June 2011.
The first requirement for entry into force of the MLC, 2006 – coverage of 33 per cent of the world gross tonnage – has already been attained with over 48 percent of the world gross tonnage. Switzerland’s ratification is an important step forward towards achieving the second requirement of 30 ratifying countries. Switzerland now commits itself to apply the MLC, 2006 to its fleet of approximately 640,000 gross tons composed of bulk carriers, container ships, freighters and tankers operating around the world.
Switzerland has been very active throughout the preparatory work that eventually led to the adoption of the MLC, 2006 having been a member of the High Level Tripartite Working Group and of the Preparatory Technical Conference in 2004. The extensive process of consultations and discussions culminated in the final text of the Convention adopted at the 94th (Maritime) Session of the International Labour Conference in February 2006 by 314 votes in favour and none against.
In depositing the ratification instrument for the MLC, 2006, his Excellency Ambassador Martinelli underlined the importance for Switzerland to be one of the initial 183 ILO member States to ratify this instrument, which sets out minimum standards and fair working conditions for seafarers worldwide. Switzerland is convinced that seafarers are in need of special protection, taking into account the global nature of the maritime industry, and finds that it was necessary to consolidate the many maritime standards of the ILO into a single and coherent instrument. His Excellency Ambassador Martinelli further wished to give thanks to all of those who contributed to the adoption of the Convention, in particular the social partners, as well as the Director-General and the Standards Department.
In receiving the instrument of ratification, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said: “Switzerland’s ratification of the MLC, 2006 signals another strong commitment to the social dimension of globalization. The Maritime Convention now ratified by Switzerland promotes decent work for seafarers working on board ships flying the Swiss flag irrespective of the job in which they are engaged. Around the world, seafarers make possible the large volume of international trade carried by sea, more than 90 percent of total trade. Their conditions of employment and work are an essential part of the world's trading system. This new ratification by the ILO's host country signals a renewed interest in ILO Conventions.”
Switzerland ratified in the year 2000 the Tripartite Consultation (International labour Standards) Convention, 1976, No.144 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, No. 182.
The MLC, 2006 provides a “bill of rights” for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers and establishes a level-playing field for shipowners. It is an up-to-date instrument consolidating and revising 37 Conventions and 31 Recommendations of the ILO on merchant shipping. It covers all aspects of seafarers’ working and living conditions, including minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, wages, leave, repatriation, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, occupational safety and health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. The Convention is firm on rights and flexible on implementation. The Convention has also powerful compliance and enforcement mechanisms providing for a maritime labour certificate and a declaration of maritime labour compliance, both to be carried on board vessels for inspection.
The MLC, 2006 is widely hailed as the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory framework for shipping, along with three other key maritime Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on safety at sea, training, certification and watchkeeping standards and on environmental protection.