Among the unexpected hold-outs, the UK has finally ratified the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), along with Japan.

The MLC goes into force Aug. 20, 2013. Norwegian Cruise Line is the first cruise line to have been certified (by Lloyd’s Register) to be MLC compliant.

The UK has about 1,350 ships on its register totalling 16.5 million tons and nearly 90,000 seafarers working on UK flagged ships and more than 20,000 UK nationals work as seafarers.

Japan is the 40th International Labor Organization Member State to have its ratification registered, according to the IMO, and the 10th from the Asia-Pacific region – after Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Philippines, Tuvalu and Vietnam – to have ratified the international agreement.

With the ratification by Japan, ILO member states representing 70.7 per cent of the world’s global shipping tonnage and more than 50 percent of the world’s estimated 1.2 million seafarers have now committed themselves to the work standards of the MLC.