Lloyd’s Register has developed a  voluntary assessment programme, designed to support the practical implementation of the forthcoming ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) on new and existing ships.

Not yet mandatory, the MLC, a significant development in international shipping described as a ‘bill of rights’ for maritime labour, is expected to come into force by 2012.  But ratification may take place even earlier.

The convention has been drafted to help ensure that all seafarers, regardless of their nationality and the flag of the ships they work on, can enjoy decent working and living conditions.  Lloyd’s Register believes that the MLC, 2006 will have a direct and positive impact on crew recruitment and retention and maritime safety – key issues for all those involved in shipping. The new convention sets minimum standards on issues such as conditions of employment,

accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health and safety protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection issues. Detailed requirements of the convention aim to tackle issues associated with the causes of fatigue, occupational accidents, recruitment, employment opportunities and working and living conditions for an estimated 1.2 million seafarers.

Roland Ives, Lloyd’s Register’s ILO Development Manager, commented, “The convention will affect nearly all operators. Its compliance and enforcement provisions will ensure that MLC, 2006 requirements are to be respected even on ships flying the flag of countries that have not ratified it, thus helping establish a level playing field. In the future it may be possible for port state control to detain any ship for non-compliance on a labour related issue. This convention represents a major international initiative to eliminate sub-standard shipping and is a positive development for those operators who support the recruitment and retention of well motivated seafarers.”

To help the industry to be prepared Lloyd’s Register has developed a voluntary assessment scheme for ship owners, shipyards and operating companies. The voluntary assessment scheme is based around identified important inspection criteria addressed by the five titles of the convention:

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 - on board complaint procedures

Roland Ives says, “Lloyd’s Register has already undertaken trial inspection work and numerous evaluation studies against the full requirements of the MLC, 2006 and we have consulted ship owners, shipyards and regulators to identify a positive, practical, pro-active approach to the implementation of the MLC, 2006. We are now able to provide shipyards, shipowners and operators with the tools and support they need to comply with the MLC, 2006.

Lloyd’s Register believes that it is possible that the implementation of this new convention will be earlier than that indicated in the ILO action plan and therefore considers it is important to be proactive in addressing the requirements of the convention.

Lloyd’s Register’s voluntary assessment programme makes reference to the need for national requirements to be identified through Flag State Declarations of Maritime Labour Compliance Part I (DMLC Part I). Until flag states issue their DMLCs and ratify the convention, Lloyd’s Register can help clients to be prepared by inspecting their ships against Lloyd’s Register’s voluntary assessment scheme to gain a ‘Statement of Compliance’ against the requirements of the MLC, 2006.

In addition Lloyd’s Register is preparing an international programme of seminars, workshops and training programmes to support the needs of clients.