London. UK. The ILO has again called on governments to treat seafarers as key workers at the Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) in April, but the issue of seafarer minimum wages embarrassingly remains unresolved.
Two Resolutions were passed at the meeting which brought together more than 100 governments, seafarers and shipowners. One Resolution concerning the implementation and practical application of the MLC, 2006 during the COVID-19 pandemic renews calls for States to treat seafarers as key workers. States are called upon to ensure seafarers do not stay onboard for longer than the maximum period of service stipulated by the MLC, 2006.
A second Resolution calls on governments to make vaccines available for seafarers on ships visiting ports in their territories. Speaking for shipowners at the meeting, Dr Max Johns said that the resolutions were, “clear statements of ambition to get seafarers vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, which is the only way to secure an unhindered global supply of goods, not least food and medicine.” Shipowners, he added, expect that “the MLC, 2006 and all of its conditions apply under all circumstances.”
Minimum wage challenges
Nonetheless, there was one disappointing outcome from the tripartite April meeting. Prior to the meeting, the ILO hailed: “It’s 75 years since the first minimum monthly wage for seafarers was set – the only sector with an international minimum wage.” This is set against internationally accepted daily working conditions of 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week (equating to 208 hours per month).