Brian Orrell

Interview for the Oral Archives of the ILO Century Project by Anne Trebilcock

Born and raised in Barrow-in-Furness, a shipbuilding town in Cumbria, England, Mr Orrell started his career in 1965 as an Engineer Cadet with the shipping company Blue Funnel and Ocean Fleets. From 1973 to 1979 he served as Industrial Officer at the Liverpool branch of the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers Association (now Nautilus International), which represented more than 24,000 seafaring personnel at sea, on inland waterways and ashore.

In 1988 he was promoted to Assistant General Secretary at Nautilus and in 1993 became General Secretary. He held this post for 16 years while leading the seafarers’ group in top-level IMO/ILO negotiations that culminated with the adoption of a number of international maritime legal instruments, notably the Fair Treatment Guidelines for Seafarers, the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention 2003 (C185), the Seafarers' Welfare Convention 1987 (C163), the Seafarers' Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention 1996 (C180) and the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.

In 2009 he stepped down after securing a successful merge, of Nautilus UK with its Dutch branch, Nautilus NL. From 2000 to 2010 Mr Orrell was the Chairman of the International Transport Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Section and a joint Chair of the ITF’s main policy body, the Fair Practices Committee. In 2007 he was honoured with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services, and in 2008 was given the Lloyds List London Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008 he was also elected to the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for eight consecutive years.

Development of socialism, labour relations, and labour economics, Ruskin College, Oxford, UK
Law degree, Chelmer Institute Law School (Anglia University today), UK

The interview covers a number of issues related to the maritime work of the ILO and, in particular, Mr Orrell’s experiences as a representative of seafarers over many years. Mr Orrell recalls his involvement in the maritime conferences in the 1980s and 1990s, his experiences with the preparation, negotiation and adoption of various maritime conventions, namely the Seafarers' Welfare Convention 1987 (C163), the Seafarers' Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention 1996 (C180), and the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC). He provides insights into the politics, deliberations and struggles between the working groups of governments’, ship owners’ and seafarers’ representatives at the maritime conferences. Mr Orrell explains an unusual step taken to facilitate the ratification of the MLC and the enforcement of C180. He also touches upon the interrelation between the 1998 Declaration, the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and the MLC. He analyses how the values and principles of the first two have been incorporated into the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.

Key words
The Bill of Rights, child labour, decent work, flag of convenience ships, flag state, forced labour, freedom of association, collective bargaining, deregulation, economic crisis, Engineers and Officers’ Union (MNAOA), European Union (EU), free trade, globalization, ILO Governing Body (GB), ILO Legal Committee, International Bargaining Programme (IBP), International Marine Employers’ Council (IMEC), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Ship Management Code, International Shipping Federation (ISF) International Transport Federation (ITF), Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), labour inspection, C178 Labour Inspection (Seafarers) Convention 1996, Lloyds Register, London Metropolitan University, Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Maritime Sectoral Dialogue Committee, Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards), C147 Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention 1976, minimum wage, Nautilus, C180 Seafarers Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention 1996, C185 Seafarers Identity Documents Convention (Revised) 2003, C163 Seafarers' Welfare Convention 1987, Social Affairs Committee of the Council of Ministers, tripartism, Tripartite Maritime Committee, United Nations (UN), wage rates, War-like Operations Area Committee (WOAC), discrimination, ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Names mentioned
Lindemann, Dierk; Newman, John; Schindler Jean-Marc; Dearsley, David; Whitlow, John; Carlton, Bruice; Pavlov, Igor; Picard, Loic.

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