UK ratifies MLC 2006 after “lengthy process”

The MLC includes a number of key elements that involve the operation of larger superyachts over 500 grt

The UK has now ratified the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) in time for it to come into force.

The MLC includes a number of key elements that involve the operation of larger superyachts over 500 grt. Earlier this year there were concerns voiced in the UK superyacht community that MLC 2006 would not be ratified in time and if that was the case it could affect the running of UK-flagged yachts as well as those under Red Ensign registers.

The consultation processes were for a long while bypassed by the superyacht sector until the realisation that it had sections that would significantly affect the management, operation and building of some larger superyachts. The areas covered by MLC 2006 include seafarer employment terms and conditions, qualifications, health and welfare, accommodation and port state control.

MLC 2006 consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards in the maritime sector. It sets minimum global standards for seafarers’ living and working conditions. It also reflects the valuable contribution of the ILO to global employment standards.

In a press statement the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “The ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention has been a lengthy process that involved a number of government departments including DWP, FCO and BIS alongside extensive contributions from the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International, the RMT union and other stakeholders. It presented us with the opportunity to update legislation.”

The UK’s adoption has also been extended to include both the Isle of Man and Gibraltar.

Mark Towl, vessel policy manager at the MCA, told IBI: “The UK Register has eight yachts over 500 tonnes that will need certification and 85 yachts under 500 tonnes that may apply for voluntary certification. The convention comes into force from  August 20, 2013 and we recommend that all new build yachts with their keel laid take account of MLC from that date. We have set the sheltered water qualification for yachts in domestic voyages at 60 miles, which is larger than some other countries that have ratified. We have done this to reduce the burden on the operation of yachts on domestic voyages.”

An Isle of Man Shipping Register spokeswoman told IBI: “The Isle of Man Shipping Register has 419 yachts on the register of which 316 are pleasure yachts of all sizes, and of these 49 are over 24m (78ft). As regards the 103 commercial yachts they are all over 24m.”

No figures could be obtained for the number of yachts on the Gibraltar register.

Towl explained that “the Isle of Man and Gibraltar registers have been included with the UK ratification because they asked to be so.” He anticipated that other Red Ensign registers such as Cayman Islands might do the same.

A spokesman for the British Marine Federation told IBI: “The BMF has been very involved with the ratification of MLC and it feels happy and comfortable with the UK ratifying MLC. Our technical team have been actively engaged in the ratification process, which has included the formulation of the MGM 490 package.”

This package relates to equivalent accommodation standards in yachts under 200 tonnes and it is to be published imminently.

Stephen Hammond MP, UK Minister for Shipping, said: “I am pleased to adopt this convention. This will ensure that there are globally agreed standards for seafarers and their right to decent working conditions.”

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