The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) has been the catalyst for closer scrutiny on all areas of the superyacht crew sector. One sector that has been watched with close scrutiny in the run up to and months after the Convention’s implementation on 30 August, 2013, is the recruitment playing field. The recruitment sector has  for some time been the centre of many questions surrounding the legalities of MLC accreditation, which we covered in an online feature here.

The months leading up to implementation saw numerous announcements of MLC accreditation compliance from those larger recruitment agencies that take up the majority of the sector, however, The Crew Report has been contacted by a number of smaller agencies, complaining of the difficulties in the progress of achieving MLC accreditation, with the suggestion that there has not been sufficient help available to those lesser known agencies with limited resources.

Jaclyn Zackey, owner of newly launched South African recruitment agency Bridge International Placements, contacted The Crew Report and explained her difficulties with achieving MLC accreditation and the complexity of the process. Focusing on working with the South African Coast Guard and the South African Seafarers Training Association, Zackey’s difficulties have stemmed from the lack of other agencies wishing to deal with a non-accredited agency. “I found a reputable recruitment agency in Antibes, but they were reluctant in dealing with me as I was not MLC compliant. I don’t even know how to apply to become MLC compliant and if I really want to. Unfortunately I am despondent and have lost hope.”

Meanwhile, Gladstone Park Chefs contacted The Crew Report prior to the August implementation date, voicing similar concerns surrounding the problems of gaining MLC compliance. John Bowman Baker, managing director of Gladstone Park Chefs, explained how he struggled to get in touch with the International Labour Organization (ILO) simply to get information about gaining accreditation, and five months later has gone with the decision to remain unaccredited. “As the accreditation is optional at the moment, I have decided to leave it, especially as the legislation is more to remedy faults in the tanker and large cruise market. Superyachts, with which we deal, are not the main concern of the ILO and I doubt if they would get heavy at this stage.”

The next question to be answered is whether those smaller agencies will see the effects of non-compliance.

However, Bowman Baker then added: “I put it to the ILO that my guys were chefs, not sailors, but I got a reply that they were sailors first… The law is good but the application of it leaves much to be desired.” Those who have been keeping up closely with the MLC’s implementation, nonetheless, should be aware of that in most cases, all those on board are considered ‘seafarers’, except under particular circumstances, such as armed guards on board (however, in all cases this will be decided by a yacht’s Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance) Part I, as outlined here.

Lots of the larger recruitment agencies have managed to receive MLC accreditation, but the current situation in which the recruitment sector has found itself suggests that the smaller agencies are struggling when it comes to compliance. The next question to be answered is whether those smaller agencies will see the effects of non-compliance.

We would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the issue; please share them in the comments section below.

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