What is the Maritime Labour Convention(MLC) 2006?

It is an important new international Labour Convention that was adopted by the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO), under article 19 of its Constitution at a maritime session in February 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland. It sets out seafarers’ rights to decent conditions of work and helps to create conditions of fair competition for shipowners. It is intended to be globally applicable, easily understandable, readily updatable and uniformly enforced.

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 has been designed to become a global legal instrument that, once it enters into force, will be the the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS), the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978, as amended (STCW) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 73/78 (MARPOL).

The MLC convention does not apply to:

  • ships which navigate exclusively in inland waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply;
  • ships engaged in fishing;
  • ships of traditional build such as dhows and junks;
  • warships or naval auxiliaries.

Many existing maritime labour Conventions have a low ratification level. The new Convention has been designed specifically to address this problem. More protection of seafarers will be achieved by the early ratification and national-level implementation of the new Convention by the vast majority of ILO nations active in the maritime sector, as is the case of the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO): SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL.


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