Many seafarers ply across waters distant miles away from their homes. The categories of people in the maritime transport include the seafarers and ship owners. These people are often from different nationalities as ships operate under different flags, from their origin to other countries. The seafarers often face difficult conditions of working from their occupational risks. The fact that they work far from homes exposes them to challenges such as exploitation, abuse, non-paid wages, and non-compliance to the contracts, poor diet, poor living conditions and sometimes abandonment in foreign ports. This necessitated the industry to contract laws and expectations governing the industry. This is what constitutes the Maritime Labor Convention 2006. These set out the expected conditions of working, to grow the maritime standards into globalized standards. The STCW is among the security and quality management bodies of ships.
The maritime labor convention
The Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) drives the principles of international maritime organization ensuring safety and quality of working standards in the industry. It facilitates the means of enforcing the standards through a clear system of certification and inspection from the flag state and port authorities (The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006). The MLC covers various stakeholders in the maritime industry. These include, all the ships operating in the international waters, with the exception of the following. It exempts all the ships that navigate within inland waters, waters close to coast, in sheltered waters, and in ports with port regulations. It also does not cover fishing vessels, and ships that have a traditional build such as junks and dhows. Additionally, the warships and naval auxiliaries lie outside the confines of the Maritime Labor Convention. Additionally, ships below 200GT, which do not engage in international voyages, and have cover in the national laws of the country of operation, do not lie in the frameworks of the MLC (The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006). It also includes seafarers, who include those employed on ships, engaged in or working in any capacity on board the ship. It covers all including riding gangs and hotel staff on the cruise ships. It is anyone on board the ship. It contains sections that cover the requirements for working on the ship, the rights of the workers and conditions of employment within the industry.
Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship
In the minimum requirements, there are factors such as age considerations, medical certification, training qualifications and recruitment and placement expectations. In the first factor of age outline, the requirement to work on board a ship is the 16-year age mark. The person working on board the ship must be above 16 years, with such a person only qualifying to work during the day (The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006). The age limit for workers to work in both day and night hours is 18 years. This allows the industry to eliminate aspects of child labor, and abuse of children. The age limit facilitates safety and responsibility in the working industry. In consideration of medical qualifications, the minimum requirements include certification of the physical and mental fitness of the individual, in executing the work employed to do. The certificate of medication is in English language, and has a validation of a maximum of 2 years (McConnell, Devlin & Doumbia, 2011). This means that, it is a minimum requirement that the person must have regular health assessments to ascertain their fitness. However, if the person is under 18 years, the medical certification has a validation time of 1 year. There are exemptions in urgent cases, which then allow the person to work for 3 months without a valid health certificate until they get to the next port of call for approval certificate. Thus, the MLC does provide clearly outlined requirements on the medical certifications of the seafarers.
On the requirements over training and qualifications, the MLC dictates that seafarers must have proper training on the expectations within their work outline while onboard. The person must have proper qualification and certification to that effect indicating their competency in performing the onboard duties. Thus, the factor of hiring unskilled labor does not feature in MLA (The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006). Additionally, the training of the person should factor in personal safety training. Working in the maritime industry is hostile, and the ship faces risks from Mother Nature on a daily basis. Therefore, it is essential that each person working onboard have a proper and sufficient training on safety issues while onboard. Lastly, in factoring the training and qualifications, the minimum training and qualification requirements, the training the person holds must conform to the International Maritime Organization Standards. This means that the person must have a certificate of training from an authorized training institution that meets the standards of the International Maritime Organization Standards. In consideration to process of recruitment and placement in the industry, the MLC does provide the guideline that, the member state or the ships that fly the flags of the member states ought to establish proper procedures of placement, registration, complaint and compensation during recruitment. The recruitment process is a procedure of the member state or ship flying the flag, and it should be open and abiding with the regulations of that state. There recruitment should also consider training and qualification standards that comply with the International Maritime Organization Standards (The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006). These are the expectations in line with the minimum requirements according to the Maritime Labor Convention.
Condition of employment
The employment agreement
The Maritime Labor Convention outlines various conditions within the contract of employment. These conditions govern the procedure of employment and indicate the terms of agreement as well as other expectations. The first factor in terms of employment is the employment agreement/contract. The contract according to the convention is between the seafarers and ship owners, in which they have the obligation of providing fair working and living conditions. To begin with, the contract should be in English language since this is the recognized communication mode (McConnell, Devlin & Doumbia, 2011). Within the contracts, there are details expected to appear. These details include the name and address of the owner of the ship. It also includes the name, date and place of birth of the seafarer. Additionally, the contract contains the place and date of signing of the contract, and the consequent conditions and terms regarding the termination of the agreement. The contract also contains the expectations of provision for health and social security, with the protection benefits provided by the owner of the ship. It also outlines the rights of the seafarer to repatriation. Moreover, the agreement terms should also feature the following procedures. The seafarer must have the opportunity to read and consider the contract before committing to it by signing. The seafarer should also receive a record of their employment. Lastly, when the signing of contract happens, the owner of the ship and the seafarer must each receive and keep their own copy of the signed contract. The convention put in regard to the terms of agreement and due process of signing the agreement between the owner of the ship and the seafarer these terms.
In consideration of the wages, the Maritime Labor Convention stipulates that the seafarers will receive their wages on a regular basis as the terms of agreement between them and ship owner outline. For instance, it can be on a weekly basis, after two weeks, monthly basis or any other they chose to agree. There should be the inclusion of monthly statements of accounts for the seafarers. The convention also states that the seafarer can transfer part of all of their wages to their saving place of choice. Lastly, in view of the payment of wages, since these people operate in various countries, the convention outlines that the charges of currency conversion should remain at reasonable limits.
Working and rest hours and overtime
The MLC outlines the procedures governing working hours for the seafarers. It stipulates that the national legislation should implement the rest hours for the seafarers. The working hours should be a maximum of 14 hours within the 24-hour period and a maximum of 72 working hours within the seven-day period. In consideration to hours of rest, the time limit within 24 hours is that the seafarer should have at least 10 hours of rest, and concerning a whole week, the cumulative hours of rest should be at least 77 hours (Dimitrova & Blanpain, 2010). Additionally, due to the evidence of overtime factor, the stipulation of the convention outlines that; the splitting of the hours of rest should not be more than two periods. It states that the rest period in these two periods should be at least 6 hours. Moreover, the sessions of crew exercises such as lifeboat drills should have minimal disruption to the rest periods of the seafarer.
Like many other public workers, the seafarer should also have a holiday period. In this section, the convention outlines that the seafarer should have 2.5 days…