GENEVA (ILO News) – On 11 August 2011 the Government of Antigua and Barbuda communicated to the International Labour Office (ILO) the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). Antigua and Barbuda is the third Caribbean country, after the Bahamas and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to ratify the MLC, 2006.
Ms Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO, said: “The ratification of the MLC, 2006 by Antigua and Barbuda is a very positive signal sent in response to the ratification campaign of the MLC, 2006 launched by the Director-General of the ILO in December 2010. It sends the right message to other ILO member States to come on board and ensure fair competition for shipowners together with fair and decent working conditions for seafarers around the world. As a Caribbean country and an important flag State, I am very pleased that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda through this ratification is demonstrating its commitment to decent work for seafarers working on board ships flying the flag of the country.”
Mr. Dwight Gardiner, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the International Maritime Organization, stated “the protection and promotion of workers’ rights is part of the ethos of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, therefore the ratification of the MLC, 2006 is a significant event for this flag State. With over 90,000 seafarers serving on its vessels, Antigua and Barbuda by ratifying this Convention demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that these seafarers and those on ships that call at our ports enjoy decent working conditions. The shipowners as well will be beneficiaries of this Convention which promotes fair competition in this ever increasing competitive industry. We look forward to the imminent entry into force of this very important instrument.”
Antigua and Barbuda is ranked among the top 20 flag States, with over 1300 ships registered under its flag, representing more than 11 million gross tons.
With the ratification by Antigua and Barbuda of the MLC, 2006, 17 ILO member States have deposited with the ILO their instrument of ratification of this important Convention, which establishes a level-playing field for shipowners while ensuring decent living and working conditions for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers. While the first requirement for entry into force of the Convention – coverage of 33 per cent of the world gross tonnage – has already been attained, Antigua and Barbuda’s ratification is an important step towards achieving the second requirement: 30 ratifying countries. It is expected that the additional 13 ratifications will be obtained before the end of 2011, which would enable the MLC, 2006 to enter into force in 2012.
The MLC, 2006 is an up-to-date instrument consolidating and revising most ILO Conventions and Recommendations on merchant shipping. It covers all aspects of seafarers’ working and living conditions, including minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship, conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, wages, leave, repatriation, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, occupational safety and health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.
The MLC, 2006 is widely hailed as the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory framework for shipping, along with three other key maritime Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on safety at sea, training, certification and watchkeeping standards and on environmental protection.