Maritime Labour Convention in Pacific island countries

Maritime Labour Convention

Kiribati seafarers in training
The maritime sector, despite some decline in recent years, continues to be critical to economic development and day-to-day survival in some Pacific island countries. It remains an important source of jobs and income in the Pacific region and generates remittance transfers from seafarers of up to 25 per cent of GNP in some countries.  However, if left unregulated, Pacific seafarers can be vulnerable to exploitation, while shipping registries may be unable to maintain competitiveness without the adoption of international standards.

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 came into force in 2013 and consolidated a number of existing maritime labour conventions and related recommendations. The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), is designed to help achieve the twin goals of ensuring a ‘level playing field’ for quality ship owners and establish improve conditions of work for seafarers by prescribing certain minimum conditions of work.

The MLC has been widely ratified among Pacific island ILO member States including Tuvalu, Kiribati, Palau, Marshall Islands and Samoa. However, in some cases, member States require capacity support to implement the requirements of the Convention.

Since 2009, the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries has provided tailored support to ILO member States to ratify and implement the MLC. This included engaging the Pacific International Maritime Law Association to conduct gap analyses of existing law. The ILO also held a range of awareness raising meetings with governments, employers and workers and assistance with the development of Action Plans to ratify the MLC.

Where possible and practicable, the Office has supported officials to attend training on the MLC at the ILO’s International Training Centre based in Turin.