When Russia and the Philippines ratified the Maritime Labor Convention last August, it made possible the entry into force of the labor standard for seafarers, which will take effect on August 20, 2013.
This Convention was unanimously approved in 2006, but there was a need to fulfill two requirements. One was for it to be ratified by at least 30 member countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a demand that was met by the agreement of Russia and the Philippines. The other is for it to be ratified by at least 33% of the gross tonnage of the world merchant fleet, which was reached in 2009. The 30 countries represent about 60 percent of the tonnage of the merchant fleet.
Panama is already at the stage of completion of the regulation of the Maritime Labor Convention, which is expected to be ready by the end of September, but it still lacks final approval, either by Decree Law or by the National Assembly.
The workers’ representative on the Tripartite Commission, Captain Luis Fruto, expressed confidence that the Panamanian flag will be ready for the entry into force of the Maritime Labor Convention next year. He reported that the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) will be the competent authority of the Convention.
Once the Regulatory Agreement is approved by the appropriate bodies, it will fall to the Recognized Organizations (RO) and the Merchant Marine Department of the AMP to delegate the function of issuing certificates of Maritime Labor certifying ships flying the Panamanian flag.
Of the more than 9,000 ships in the Panamanian Registry, the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) only applies to international ships, representing between 80% and 85%, according to figures from the AMP.
Meanwhile, Captain Orlando Allard, also on the Tripartite Commission, said entry into force of the Convention is scheduled for August 2013 and definitely the Panamanian Registry and vessels flying its flag will be ready to meet the requirements of the Convention.
Panama must initiate certification of its fleet before the end of this year, 2012, once the regulations of the Convention are incorporated under Panamanian law, said Allard.
The Maritime Labor Convention sets minimum requirements for almost all aspects of employment of seafarers, including conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and supplies, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security.
The director of the Department of International Labor Standards of the ILO, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, said that “Every State must not only ensure that vessels flying its flag comply with the requirements of decent work, under the Convention, but they also have to certify that these ships comply with the requirements related to working conditions.”
This post is also available in: Spanish