EUROPEAN ship owners are embracing the International Labour Organization’s new maritime labour convention, even though it means accepting extra responsibilities.
“Despite the additional workload it imposes on the ship owners, they will benefit from the convention in the end,” said Pia Voss of the European Community Ship owners’ Association, speaking at the tripartite European maritime labour conference in Hamburg.
The convention, or known as the bill of rights for seafarers, provides a global standard for working and living conditions for crews, from wages and working hours to accommodation and safety. It will substitute more than 68 existing ILO conventions and recommendations.
Ship owners, trade unions and governments agreed in 2006 on the convention. It is likely to come into effect in 2011. “The shipping industry is the most global industry in the world,” Ms Voss told Lloyd’s List. “It is beneficial to have one global standard instead of several regional ones.”
Conditions for competition will then be the same in every country. But a couple of obstacles remain for ship owners, who are taking overall responsibility for meeting working and living standards.
The convention defines everybody working on a ship as a seafarer. “There had been a lot of discussion about this definition,” said Ms Voss. “Cases of doubt will remain in the future.” Since each country has to define for itself who it regards as a seafarer, the same person could be regarded as a seafarer in one country but not in another.