Steps being taken to update maritime labour laws



 PS Bresson delivering her speech ...

The Maritime Labour Convention is set to come into force in August 2013, which is seven years after its adoption. Seychelles is not yet a party to this convention, but is required to ratify it in the near future.

Before it does so, the government has to ensure our national legislation and practices are strengthened so that the provisions of the convention are applied effectively and that Seychelles is able to fulfil its reporting obligations within the International Labour Organisation.

It is with this aim that the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources Development, in collaboration with the ILO organised a three-day Validation Workshop on Legislative Implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention which started yesterday.

Its launch at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room was attended by the Labour and Human Resources Development Minister Idith Alexander and prominent officials of the attorney general’s chambers, the Seychelles Port Authority and the ILO.

Launching the workshop, principal secretary Veronique Bresson noted that the shipping industry employs more than 1.2 million seafarers and 90% of world trade occurs at sea. delegates listen

“The importance of the maritime sector to the global economy and to the livelihood of seafarers therefore goes without saying. In these times of financial crisis, it is even more critical to all of us.”

Ms Bresson said that in order to improve the working and living conditions of seafarers, the ILO has decided to embody and update all maritime international labour standards into a consolidated convention titled The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 which gives rights and protection at work to all seafarers.

It aims to achieve both decent work for seafarers and secure economic interests in fair competition for quality ship owners and incorporates the fundamental principles of the eight core ILO conventions and updates existing maritime instruments.

The convention addresses issues such as:
 . minimum requirements for seafarers to work on ships
. conditions of employment

.health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.

Ms Bresson said last year following Seychelles’ attendance of the ILO conference, the organisation gave financial help allowing us to conduct a legal gap analysis of our relevant laws vis-à-vis the convention, a project which was undertaken by a local consultant.

She said that the main aim of the workshop is to present the findings of the gap analysis with partners and stakeholders.

Brandt Wagner – one of three ILO specialists present – said the workshop is well-timed. Just one week ago, the convention got its 30th ratification – by the Philippines – the nation with the highest number of seafarers.

 It has now been accepted by countries representing nearly 60% of world gross tonnage.

Mr Wagner said when the convention comes into force in August next year, ships flying the flag of ratifying countries will have to be inspected and certified for compliance.

 Equally important, all ships, even those registered in countries that have not yet ratified the convention, may, when visiting ports of states that have ratified it, be subjected to port state control for compliance with its provisions.

Mr Wagner later told Nation that ratification by Seychelles will also make it easier for ships to register in Port Victoria.

Consultant Joe Athanasius said the legislation on seafarers was the main stumbling block to Seychelles’ ratification of the convention.

 He noted that a ship at sea is like a state in itself.

Mr Athanasius also noted that Seychelles as a maritime state is also a seafaring nation. He recalled the days when many of the ships crossing the Indian Ocean had Seychellois captains, engineers or crew.