GENOA, Italy (ILO News) – Italy may soon ratify the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) since all the necessary steps have been taken to bring the draft law to the agenda of the Parliament.
At a round table held in Genoa on 11 December as part of the “Training of trainers and maritime inspectors in the application of the MLC, 2006” organised by the ILO and its International Training Centre based in Turin, the Director General for Maritime and Inland Waterways Transport at the Ministry of Transport, Mr Enrico Puja, said a bill is ready and that all the Ministries involved have already reviewed the text.
“We will proceed with the ratification as soon as the Parliament will be able to schedule it, probably in the next two months”, said Mr Puja. “Our country has always believed in the necessity to have such an instrument for the welfare of our seafarers”.
The ILO Convention aims to protect the world’s more than1.2 million seafarers and ensure a level-playing field for quality shipowners, addressing the evolving realities and needs of an industry that handles 90 per cent of international trade. The Convention sets minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship and contains provisions on almost every aspect of working life, from minimum age to conditions of employment, hours of work and rest and social security. Moreover, the Convention establishes a strong compliance and enforcement mechanism based on flag State inspection of all ships and for ships 500 GT and above engaged in international voyages or voyages from or between foreign ports.
“The Convention will help us to update our system of inspection and will contribute to a greater safety of navigation, both for those who are on board and for ports”, said the Rear Admiral Cristiano Aliperta, head of the Italian Safety of Navigation Department. The Italian Coast Guard supported and contributed much to the training of trainers and maritime inspectors held at the ILO International Training Centre in Turin.
The entry into force formula of the MLC, 2006 is rather demanding, since it requires ratifications from at least 30 ILO Member States and a total share of at least 33 per cent of world gross tonnage (GT). The tonnage requirement was exceeded in 2009 while 11 countries with important maritime interests have ratified the Convention, so far: the Bahamas, Liberia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Norway, Panama, and in 2010, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Croatia, Bulgaria, Canada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The ILO needs 19 more ratifications in order to achieve the entry-into-force formula in 2011.
Ms Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the ILO International Labour Standards Department, explained that “the reason for these numbers reflect the importance that was placed on making sure that the majority of concerned maritime countries, whether flag States, port States, or labour supply States are actually bound by the Convention. There are now 67 countries that have already brought the MLC, 2006 to the attention of their parliament. A number of countries in all regions of the world is working hard and should be in a position to ratify the Convention soon or at least in the next 12 months”.
The way the MLC, 2006 will contribute to improve seafarers’ working conditions in the cruise industry was one of the issues debated in Genoa. The sector is labour intensive and the continuous expansion of the fleet in the last years has led to a great increase in demand for seafarers. It is estimated that there are over 120,000 seafarers worldwide working on cruise ships: 70 per cent in the hotel division, 20 per cent in the marine division, and 10 per cent in concessionary work. The majority of seafarers in the hotel division come from developing countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.
Italy has a long maritime tradition and a much developed cruise sector, being the main destination for cruises in the Mediterranean, with 68 ports and 64 different cruise companies. The national representative of the International Transport Federation (ITF), Mr Remo Del Fiore, raised the attention on the need for transparency and social dialogue in the industry, in order to guarantee decent work conditions for seafarers, including welfare assistance and minimum wages.
According to Mr Maurizio Campagnoli, Director of Industrial Relations at Costa Cruises group, the MLC, 2006 will help the quality shipowners who have chosen to fly the flag of their country and to invest in their own country’s shipping industry. Mr Campagnoli stressed the fact that these shipowners need a level-playing field, against unfair competition of substandard companies.