With the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) by the United Kingdom, 41 ILO Member States, representing 75.3 per cent of the world gross tonnage of ships and more than 50 percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers have now committed themselves to the Convention, which comes into force on 20 August.
In addition to becoming the 41st ILO Member State to ratify the MLC, 2006, the United Kingdom is also the 15th European Union member to have ratified the landmark Convention. The MLC, 2006 will become the fourth pillar of the international maritime legal regime complementing key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with decent working and living conditions for seafarers and conditions of fair competition for ship owners.
The United Kingdom actively participated in the design and promotion of the MLC, 2006 and, by virtue of its ratification, joins the other 14 EU Member States in implementing the EU Council decision of 2007 authorizing the ratification of the Convention and inviting member States to complete the ratification process.
As an island nation, the United Kingdom has over 120 commercial ports and is currently constructing its first 21st Century major deep-sea port, the London Gateway, which will be able to handle the biggest container ships in the world and is expected to create over 12,000 new jobs.
More than 24,100 UK nationals work as seafarers. Its maritime sector creates up to some 263,000 jobs and directly contributes nearly £13.8 billion to the GDP. It also has 1,383 registered vessels totalling more than 16.57 million gross tonnage under its flag.
The Isle of Man, which is included among the top 20 countries or territories for merchant fleet, stands in the world’s top 15 in terms of tonnage. In addition, Gibraltar, which is strategically located at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and Atlantic shipping lanes, is at the forefront of maritime activity and its ship registry has experienced steady growth over the past eight years.
In transmitting the instrument of ratification, Mark Matthews, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in Geneva, stated: “This Convention is about promoting acceptable working conditions for seafarers globally. It will also promote a level playing field for the UK merchant fleet and have spin-offs for international trade. I am therefore very pleased to be adding the UK’s name to the list of countries that have ratified the Convention.”
In welcoming the ratification of the MLC, 2006 by the United Kingdom, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, stated: “It is a pleasure to welcome the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, by the United Kingdom, along with Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, during this monumental time in maritime history as we approach the date when the Convention comes into effect.
"This ratification is particularly fitting given the great contribution by the United Kingdom to the training and other activities promoting the success of the Convention. Not only did the United Kingdom play an important role during the development of the MLC, 2006, it has also demonstrated the positive results that may be achieved through effective tripartite consultations and discussions. This ratification by such important participants in the maritime industry – the United Kingdom, alone, has nearly 1,500 vessels flying its flag and an advanced Port State Control, not to mention the importance of Gibraltar and the Isle of Man – helps to ensure that the decent working and living conditions for the world’s seafarers will truly be implemented and enforced.”
The MLC, 2006 will enter into force on 20 August 2013 for the first 30 ratifying countries (the 30 countries that had a registered ratification on 20 August 2012). For countries that have registered their ratification after 20 August 2012, the MLC, 2006 will enter into force 12 months after their ratification. Ratification by countries representing at least 33 per cent of the world’s total gross global tonnage of shipping, and at least 30 ILO Member States, were required for the Convention to come into force.