Maritime Labour Convention

Maritime Labour Convention
MLC, C186
Maritime Labour Convention
Maritime Labour Convention ratifications.png
Ratifications of the Convention (countries in blue have ratified, but have not finished all formalities)
Drafted 7 February 2006
Signed 23 February 2006
Location Geneva
Effective not in force
Condition 30 ratifications; representing 33% of gross tonnage of ships
Ratifiers 20
Depositary Director-General of the International Labour Office
Languages French and English
Maritime Labour Convention at Wikisource

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is an International Labour Organization Convention established in 2006, which has not yet entered into force as it has been ratified by only 20 of the required 30 states. Already after five ratifications the ratifying countries (Bahamas, Norway, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Panama) represented over 43% of the gross world tonnage[1] (which is over 33%; the second requirement for entry into force).

The treaty was established in 2006 as the Fourth pillar of international maritime law and embodies "all up-to-date standards of existing international maritime labour Conventions and Recommendations, as well as the fundamental principles to be found in other international labour Conventions".[2] The other "pillars are the SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL.


Content and Organization

The convention consists of the sixteen articles containing general provisions as well as the Code. The Code consists of for Titles in which specific provisions are grouped by standard (or in Title 5: mode of enforcement):

  • Title 1: Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship
  • Title 2: Conditions of employment
  • Title 3: Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering
  • Title 4: Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection
  • Title 5: Compliance and enforcement

For Each Title, there are general Standards, which are further specified in mandatory Regulations (list A) as well as Guidelines (List B). Guidelines generally form a form of implementation of a Regulation according to the requirements, but States are free to have different implementation measures. Regulations should in principle be implemented fully, but a country can implement a "substantially equivalent" regulation, which it should declare upon ratification.

Title 1: Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship

The minimum requirements set out in this section of the code are devided in 4 parts and are summarized below:

  • Minimum age requirements: the mimimum age is 16 years (18 for night work and work in hazardous areas).
  • Medical fitness: workers should be medically fit for the duties they are performing. Countries should issue medical certificates as defined in the STCW (or use a similar standard).
  • Training: Seafarers should be trained for their duties as well as have had a personal safety training.
  • Recruitment/placement services located in member states or for ships flying the flag of member states should have (amongst others) proper placement procedures, registration, complaint procedures and compensation if the recruitment fails.

Title 2: Employment conditions

The Title on employment conditions lists conditions of the contract and payments, as well as the working conditions on ships.

  • Contracts: the contract should be clear, legally enforceble and incorporate collective bargaining agreements (if existent).
  • Payments: Wages should be paid at least every month, and should be transferrable regularly to family if so desired.
  • Rest hours: rest hours should be implemented in national legislation. The maximum hours of work in that legislation should not exceed 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 72 hours in any seven-day period, or: ten hours in any 24-hour period and 77 hours in any seven-day period. Furthermore every day, at least six hours of rest should be given consecutively.
  • Leave: Seafarers have a right to anual leave as well as shore leave.
  • Repatriation: Returning to their country of residence should be free
  • Loss: If a ship is lost or foundered, the seafarers have a right to an unemployment payments.
  • Manning: Every ship should have a sufficient manning level


After tripartite negotiations had started in 2001, the convention was adopted during the 94th International Labour Convention in 2006. The convention received 314 votes in favour and none against by representatives of the government, employers and workers, who each held a single vote per country.[3]

Effect on other conventions

The convention changes 37 ILO conventions, which means that these conventions upon entry into force of this convention will close for ratification (if not already) and that entry into force for a specific country means automatic denouncement its ratification to other conventions (if not already).


The treaty has been ratified by 20 countries, many of which are large flag states in terms of the tonnage they transport. The European Union has advised its 27 members to ratify the treaty by 31 December 2010.[4] The EU Decision provides: "Member States are hereby authorised to ratify, for the parts falling under Community competence, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, of the International Labour Organisation, adopted on 7 February 2006. Member States should make efforts to take the necessary steps to deposit their instruments of ratification of the Convention with the Director-General of the International Labour Office as soon as possible, preferably before 31 December 2010. As of 30 October 2011 however, only Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Luxembourg and Spain had done so.[2]

Country Date Notes  % of world gross tonnage[5]
 Antigua and Barbuda 02011-08-1111 August 2011 1.0
 Bahamas 02008-02-1111 February 2008 5.0
 Benin 02011-06-1313 June 2011 <0.3
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 02010-01-1818 January 2010 <0.3
 Bulgaria 02010-04-1212 April 2010 <0.3
 Canada 02010-06-1515 June 2010 <0.3
 Croatia 02010-02-1212 February 2010 <0.3
 Denmark 02011-06-2323 June 2011 1.06 (Danish International Ship Register)
 Gabon 02011-05-1212 May 2011 no declaration <0.3
 Kiribati 02011-10-2424 October 2011 <0.3
 Latvia 02011-08-1212 August 2011 no declaration <0.3
 Liberia 02006-06-077 June 2006 11.1
 Luxembourg 02011-09-1919 September 2011 <0.3
 Marshall Islands 02007-09-2525 September 2007 6.1
 Norway 02009-02-1010 February 2009 1.5 (Norwegian International Ship Register)
 Panama 02009-02-066 February 2009 22.6
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 02010-11-099 November 2010 0.6
 Singapore 02011-06-1515 June 2011 4.8
 Spain 02010-02-044 February 2010 <0.3
 Switzerland 02011-02-2121 February 2011 <0.3
Total: 20 Total: 54%


  1. ^ "Panama and Norway ratify Maritime Labour Convention". 12 February 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2010. "Together the five flags represent 43 % of the world's shipping tonnage." 
  2. ^ a b "Treaty text of the Maritime Labour Convention". ILO. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "Maritime Labour Convention, 2006". Government of the United Kingdom. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "2007/431/EC: Council Decision of 7 June 2007 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Community, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, of the International Labour Organisation". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "Review of Maritime Transport 2010". UNCTAD secretariat. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 

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