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MLC 2006: Nautilus helps lawyers get to grips with seafarers' rights

21 September 2023

This July, Nautilus director of legal services Charles Boyle took part in the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and Case Law Symposium, which was hosted by United Nations body the International Labour Organization.

The event, aimed at lawyers and judges, was intended to provide these experts with a good level of understanding of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and it’s amendments.

As well as discussing the MLC itself, there was also a section on MLC case law related to the main issues arising in the maritime industry, including working conditions, health and safety, recruitment and placement, discrimination, and complaints and grievance procedures, both onboard ship and on land.

Mr Boyle took part in a panel discussion about the issues with working and living conditions in the maritime industry that most frequently lead to litigation. The panel, which covered the views of seafarers and shipowners, gave him the opportunity to discuss common problems but also to highlight the ways in which Nautilus has been able to provide members with help and support in cases of mistreatment.

The day concluded with a roundtable to discuss the key messages shared at the event.

'It is encouraging that the ILO’s International Training Centre initiated hosting this event for the second year running,' Mr Boyle said. 'It enabled attendants to hear how the MLC and associated flag state laws can be used to enable seafarers and their representatives to commence or threaten legal action to resolve disputes, on issues such as unpaid wages, annual leave, repatriation, etc. It is hoped that further events will be arranged to ensure this knowledge is cascaded to all those who assist seafarers.'

What is the Maritime Labour Convention?

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 consolidates many decades of international conventions and recommendations formulated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the benefit of seafarers.

104 countries have now signed up to the MLC, which is often described as the 'Bill of Rights' for seafarers.

Rights enshrined in the Convention cover issues of work and life onboard such as payment of wages, leave, repatriation and medical care.


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