The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) is widely known as the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights” and as the “fourth pillar of international maritime law”, the other three being the SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL Conventions. It has been adopted by the ILO Maritime Session in Geneva on 23 February 2006 and entered into force on 20 August 2013, or 12 months after its ratification for states that ratified the Convention later than the 20.8.2012. In Greece, the MLC entered into force on 4 January 2014, ratified with the ministerial Decision 3522.2/00/2013 (FEK B’ 1553/21.6.2013).

The MLC is structured similarly to the STCW Convention, i.e. Articles, Regulations and the Code, with Part A mandatory Standards and the corresponding Part B non-mandatory Guidelines. The Convention establishes universal rights and minimum standards for the protection of seafarers’ health and safety and their rights in general and its wide ratification and enforcement enhances the global application of decent working conditions for seafarers.

The Amendments of 2014 to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, ratified by Greece with the Presidential Decree 3/2017 (FEK A’ 6/24.1.2017), further enhance seafarers’ rights and their protection, providing, inter alia, for a direct action against the shipowner’s insurer for compensation claims in case of a seafarer’s illness, injury or death. Following should be noted in this regard:

  • Shipowners are required to have in place P & I insurance for seafarers’ contractual compensation claims for injury, illness or death, otherwise they are not the mandatory Maritime Labour Certificate and Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance.
  • Seafarers in case of illness or injury or their next of kin in case of death are entitled to immediate payment of the contractual compensation, i.e. the compensation provided for in the seafarer’s individual employment sea service agreement, and have a direct action against the insurers.
  • The payment of the contractual compensation does not prejudice other legal rights of the seafarer (or his next of kin) against the shipowner, such as for example disability or death compensation arising from the same incident and exceeding the contractual compensation, based on tort/negligence or other legal regimes.

The MLC Amendments are applicable in Greece to incidents after 24.1.2017. There is no experience in Greek courts yet and there will be certainly a number of interesting issues that will arise in litigation in practice.

For further information on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and the Amendments of 2014  you may see the presentation of Ioannis Pavlakis entitled “Seaman Claims & Maritime Accidents: The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 in Practice” (powerpoint format) at the PEOPIL Annual Conference 2014 (Vienna, Austria), and the relevant analytic paper prepared for the conference participants by Ioannis Pavlakis and Silina Pavlakis, entitled also  “Seaman Claims & Maritime Accidents: The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 in Practice” (pdf format).