In a preview the first issue of The Crew Report since the much-awaited implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) as of 20 August, 2013, captains share their biggest concerns for themselves and their crew under the Convention’s implementation.

Captain Chris Lewis, Ellix Too

To be honest I am not at all concerned. I have read the full text several times and have made it my business to get updates from the Cayman Islands regarding their interpretation and implementation, so I have all the changes in place.

I have made the necessary on-board preparations: Seafarer Employment Agreements have been written and are at our office for approval, complaints procedures are in place and additional insurance cover has been quoted and is ready to be put in place. It’s not complicated at all and I am hugely in favour of it. To be honest, we were operating at this level anyway – we just had to add and change a few things.

I am hoping that all the sub-standard operations that have been stumbling along for years will be caught out and those owners and managers who feel it is OK to hire ‘cheap’ junior captains will start to realise the benefits of more experienced captains.

Captain David Slee, Seaflower

The MLC will ensure crew are afforded (as much as practically possible) similar rights to shore-based employees. As a by-product it will protect shipping companies with good employment practices from unfair competition by poor ones who keep operating costs down by exploiting crew.

It is legislation applied across the board to all ships and, as a minority sector in the world of shipping, yachting has once again been heaped with regulations designed for large commercial vessels. Excellent work done by the Red Ensign Group and the PYA has ensured the application of these regulations does not adversely affect our industry.

However, there will be the inevitable teething problems (as there were with the scramble to get the necessary qualifications when STCW was implemented) but the industry will resolve most of them and crew will all be better off in the end because of it. On the whole it is good legislation and much of the concern around MLC is unwarranted.

As with any additional legislation and regulation, the MLC will inevitably add to the workload of management, though it’s fair to say that this extra paperwork is already commonplace in shore-based organisations. Although good owners already ensure their crew are well cared for, crew should consider that their terms of employment have improved as ship owners are now subject to increased legal obligations for their employment and welfare.

Captain Christopher Hezelgrave

The MLC is a double-sided coin for the crews. It has brought much more structure in the workplace, accentuated and enforced the development of a safe working environment and has brought to awareness workers’ rights – the need for crews to be well rested and provided for. It will add professionalism to the job description, encourage further training and provide for future security in making yachting a career rather than a ‘life discovery’ phase.

The possible downside of this for many of the crew is that it removes the ‘anonymity factor’ in the near future regarding the tax advantages; rather, ‘non-tax’ advantages are likely to become history. With the advent of requisite social security the question arises of whether the MLC will become an industry watchdog, another ‘Big Brother’.

Find the full article in
issue 65 of The Crew Report.

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