GENEVA (ILO News) – On 14 December 2011, the Government of Australia deposited with the International Labour Office the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). Australia becomes the 22nd member State to ratify the landmark Convention, which sets out seafarers’ rights to decent working and living conditions while creating fair competition for shipowners.
In receiving the instrument of ratification, Ms. Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards Department, stated: “Today, the Government of Australia delivers on its commitment to play a leading role in the ratification and implementation of the MLC, 2006 - a commitment reaffirmed at the Regional Dialogue on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, hosted by Australia in May 2011 with a view to strengthen the cooperation and consistent application of the Convention across the Asia-Pacific region. The effort of the Australian Government is all the more commendable as it required an amendment to the Commonwealth maritime legislation and extensive consultations with the different government jurisdictions. Australia’s ratification proves that the momentum in the Asia-Pacific region remains strong and I am optimistic that further ratifications are shortly to come from this region which is strategically important for achieving the goals of the MLC, 2006. In addition, the ratification by Australia will help to boost the Australian maritime industry and to strengthen its competiveness.”
In depositing the instrument of ratification, Mr Greg Vines, Minister (Labour) stated: “As the largest island continent, Australia’s economic future is inextricably linked to safe and productive shipping. It is in our environmental and economic interest to ensure that ships that travel through the Asia-Pacific region are safe, secure and crewed by seafarers that are decently treated, fairly paid and well trained. In ratifying the MLC, 2006, Australia is proud to be contributing to comprehensive rights and protection for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers who work in this fundamental global industry.
This historic achievement was made possible through the strong support, collaborative approach and practical advice from key maritime stakeholders such as the Australian Shipowners Associations and the Maritime Union of Australia and Australia’s ILO social partners. We strongly encourage other nations, particularly those in Asia-Pacific region, to work with their social partners and the ILO to ratify the MLC to help ensure that the Seafarer’s Bill of Rights can enter into force as soon as possible.”
With the ratification of the MLC, 2006 by Australia, 22 ILO member States, representing over 56 per cent of the world gross tonnage of ships, are now parties to the Convention. Of the twenty-two ratifications, twelve have been received in 2011 with the majority of these received in the last six months, which shows that national ratification efforts are now nearing completion in many countries in all regions. It is expected that the additional eight ratifications will be obtained in the following three to six moths making it possible for the MLC, 2006 to enter into force in early 2013.