On 28 February 2013, the Government of France deposited with the International Labour Office the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). France is the 35th ILO Member State and the 13th EU member State to ratify this landmark Convention, which sets out decent working and living conditions for seafarers while creating conditions of fair competition for shipowners. France has under its flag 212 vessels totalling 8.2 million gross tons. Shipping employs approximately 18,000 French seafarers while the maritime sector as a whole employs more people than the telecommunications sector, the aeronautical industry or the car industry. At the European level, the French maritime industry ranks first in construction of pleasure boats, second in civil shipbuilding and third in shipping lines. The ports of Marseilles and Le Havre are among the busiest in Europe. France is also home to the world’s third largest container transport operator.
In transmitting the instrument of ratification, Mr Nicolas Niemtchinow, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in Geneva, stated: “France, which has the world’s second greatest maritime territory, has supported from the very beginning the initiative of the maritime social partners undertaken in 2001 aiming at putting in place a genuine global seafarers’ labour code by consolidating and bringing up to date all maritime Conventions of the International Labour Organization. World shipping has now an innovative instrument that guarantees effective compliance with global social standards through certification of labour conditions onboard ships and port State control measures. It is clear that the maritime industry paves the way for other sectors.
France has ratified nearly all the existing Conventions that have been revised by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and has initiated the process for the ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188). The ratification of the MLC, 2006 by France is part of a global and integrated approach, necessary for creating new jobs and defending existing ones, in view of a “blue development” that may generate lasting wealth in areas such as naval construction, maritime transport, research, marine renewable energy, sustainable fisheries and ports, while promoting vocational training for maritime professions.
It is, in fact, inconceivable to think of modern and safe maritime transport, or of sustainable fishing, in a globalized economy without due account being taken of the human element, not only in terms of conformity with minimum standards but also in terms of improvement of the employment, working and living conditions on board vessels, including social security.
The MLC, 2006, result of the intense work of social partners and governments, is a success story for ILO’s tripartism. By analogy, this is similar to what is in the process of being achieved at the national level with representatives of seafarers and shipowners finalizing draft legislation which transposes into our national legal system the agreement of the European social partners implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and modernizing the law applicable to seafarers.”
In welcoming the ratification of the MLC, 2006 by France, the Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder, stated: “I am particularly pleased to welcome France among the maritime nations that have ratified the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 - a country that played in many different ways a very significant role from 2001 in the development, negotiations and successful adoption of this landmark Convention. In 2004, the French Government generously hosted the fourth preparatory meeting at Nantes which marked a turning point in the negotiations. The French Government representative, Jean-Marc Schindler, chaired all the High-level tripartite meetings since 2001, the Preparatory Maritime Conference in 2004 and the International Labour Conference (Maritime Session) in 2006 which saw the unanimous adoption of the MLC, 2006. I want to express the ILO’s deep gratitude to the Government of France for this unprecedented support to the standard-setting functions and values of the Organization. I am sure that the Office can confidently count on France’s continued support and leadership for the promotion and effective implementation of the MLC, 2006 in the years ahead.”
With France’s ratification, 35 ILO members representing 68.8 per cent of the world gross tonnage of ships have now ratified the MLC, 2006. The MLC, 2006 will enter into force on 20 August 2013, that is 12 months after the date on which it was ratified by 30 Members with a total share in the world gross tonnage of ships of at least 33 per cent.