GENEVA (ILO news) - On 12 April 2010, Mr Volodya Bojkov, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, deposited his country’s instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) with the International Labour Office. By ratifying this significant Convention, Bulgaria became the second European Union country, after Spain, to ratify this instrument, also referred to as the fourth pillar of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping. Bulgaria, which is among the nations with the highest number of ratified ILO Conventions, is the ninth country to ratify the MLC, 2006 and its ratification is another testimony of Bulgaria’s continued commitment to the ILO’s objectives and in particular its standards-related activities.
Bulgaria played a very active role in the process of developing the MLC, 2006 as a member of the High Level Tripartite Working Group, its participation in the 2004 Preparatory Technical Conference and the 94th (Maritime) Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva in February 2006 in which the Convention was adopted by 314 votes in favour and non against—a clear proof of the common commitment of governments, shipowners and seafarers to provide a “bill of rights” for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers and establish a level- playing field for quality shipowners.
Addressing the evolving realities and needs of an industry that handles over 90 per cent of the world’s trade, the unique structure of the MLC, 2006 establishes a strong compliance and enforcement mechanism and covers the 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. It is a comprehensive Convention bringing together and updating 37 existing ILO Conventions and 31 related Recommendations.
The importance the Government of Bulgaria attributes to maritime transport and its dedication to increasing maritime safety and improving the performance of the international fleet is shown by Bulgaria’s previous ratification of no less than 28 maritime Conventions. This committment to the maritime sector was specifically underlined through the Government’s hosting of the first Regional Seminar for European countries in the Bulgarian marine capital, Varna, in September 2006, seven months after the adoption of the MLC, 2006.
Aimed at continuing the momentum of the Conference in which the MLC, 2006 has been adopted, the seminar and its “Varna spirit” offered an opportunity to freely discuss the Convention among the representatives of 13 European countries, the International Shipping Federation, the International Transport Workers Federation and the European Commission.
While 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, Bulgaria’s ratification is an important step towards achieving the second requirement: 30 ratifying countries – which are expected to be on board by the Convention’s fifth birthday in February 2011.