Sweden has become the 28th country to ratify the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006, according to Det Norske Veritas (DNV), which said in a statement that it has information that Cyprus has submitted its documents of ratification and that the ILO has announced that the Russian Duma has adopted the Russian documents of ratification. As only two more ratifications are needed (which will very likely be Cyprus and Russia), it appears clear that the threshold entry-into-force requirement of 30 countries ratifying the MLC 2006 will be met very soon.

The Convention will enter into force 12 months after the threshold is met, and certification will be required for ships of 500 tons or over engaged in international trade, and ships from both ratifying and non-ratifying states will be subject to Port State Control to ensure compliance with Convention requirements.

The Convention requirements are very detailed and cover a wide range of topics, and shipowners or ship managers operating ships must develop and implement measures to ensure compliance with the requirements and ensure that ships are inspected and certified within the deadlines or risk challenges from inspectors and port state control.

The convention has very detailed requirements in a wide variety of areas such as, minimum age, medical certification, qualifications, employment agreements, use of private recruitment and placement services, hours of work or rest, manning levels, accommodation and recreational facilities, food and catering, health and safety and accident prevention, medical care, complaint procedures and payment of wages.

According to DNV, only a couple of countries have completed their Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance identifying how they are implementing the Convention in their national legislation. Though there is some latitude in the Convention for implementation through ‘substantial equivalence’, DNV stated it believes most flag states will seek to implement the requirements with the aim of achieving a level playing field. The ILO has estimated that 40,000 ships will come within scope of the Convention and the industry will have to be prepared for substantial work to be done before ships can be certified.