ITF Lauds MLC Abandonment Provisions Coming into Force

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)  has welcomed new Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) provisions on crew abandonment that come into force on Wednesday, January 18.

Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), ship owners must have insurance to assist the seafarers on board vessels if they are abandoned.

All ships, to which the convention applies, whose flag states have ratified the MLC must have the insurance certificate on board and on show in English.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “From tomorrow the mechanisms will be in place for a huge change that will finally treat the running sore of crew abandonment. At last the fundamental idea that those who send seafarers to sea have a responsibility for them is enshrined in regulation. This provision has been a long time coming, and, just as with the MLC itself, the ITF is proud to have been involved since its conception, working alongside the ILO, governments and shipping organisations.”

Abandonment occurs when the ship owner fails to cover the cost of the seafarer’s repatriation; or has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support; or has otherwise unilaterally severed their ties with the seafarer including failure to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months.

ITF says that the insurance will cover seafarers for up to four months outstanding wages and entitlements in line with their employment agreement or CBA, depending on when they apply.

The insurance must also cover reasonable expenses such as repatriation, food, clothing where necessary, accommodation, drinking water, essential fuel for survival on board and any necessary medical care, ITF said. It will apply from the moment of abandonment to the time of arrival back home.

The International Group of P&I clubs have set up 24 hour emergency helplines to assist the seafarers.

“It’s important that seafarers understand what the changes mean. We recommend that they check that there is a valid insurance certificate on board and realise that if abandonment does occur that they must raise the alarm right away. To help spread this message we’ve set up dedicated web pages in multiple languages www.itfseafarers-abandonment.org, and we are making available simple A4 instruction posters for use in missions and on ships,” ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said.

ISSA was fully engaged in the development of the MLC and, in addition, funded half the development and establishment costs of the on-line Database containing details of abandoned vessels.

What entry into force of these provisions means for ship suppliers is that payment for supplies delivered to an abandoned vessel will now be paid for from the insurance policy that becomes mandatory.

This is a significant benefit to Members who in the past have, out of the goodness of their hearts, supplied abandoned crew with stores whilst they wait for a resolution to their plight.

(With acknowledgement to World Maritime News)

Access to Ports & Terminals by Ship Suppliers – the facts

Recently an ISSA Member experienced difficulty accessing a customer’s vessel in Port to deliver supplies.
This has highlighted a problem that many Members have experienced. However, despite what you may hear to the contrary, the rules concerning access to Ports, Terminals & Vessel by ship suppliers are very clear.
It was felt these should be repeated and relayed to member companies in case of difficulties.
In the recent case the Port Operator stated that supplies to the ship could and should be handled by the ship’s agent.
We immediately consulted the Secretary-General of the Federation of National Associations of Ship Brokers and Agents (FONASBA) Mr Jonathan Williams on the matter and he confirmed to us that whilst the ship’s agent will be aware of the vessel’s supply arrangements these will have been arranged in advance by the vessel, the manager or the owner directly with the ship supplier according to their usual practice and contractual arrangements.
In addition ship supply is specifically mentioned in the ISPS Code as being a bona fide industry sector that is allowed full access to ports and terminals whilst taking full note of any local security regulations over and above ISPS present in a port or terminal. You will recall ISSA has a specific publication that sets out these rights and obligations, matching them to the appropriate sections of the ISPS Code.
Finally Members should note that Ship Supply has its own designated United Nations Category Number: 5190. The following web link to the UN Page confirms this:
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/cr/registry/regcic.asp?Cl=17&Lg=1&Co=5190&prn=yes

This UN category number – hard fought for by ISSA in the 1980s – legitimises our industry as nothing else can do. It gives us rights and obligations and in no way means that ships agents – or anyone else for that matter – have any command or influence over ship suppliers.

Thus there is no legal basis by which a Port Operator can impose a blanket ban on ship suppliers accessing ships berthed in their Port.

Obviously, as mentioned earlier, ship suppliers (like everyone else) have to obey the rules and regulations pertaining to a port/terminal.

Should any Member experience any difficulties accessing a Port to supply a vessel they are cordially invited to contact the ISSA Secretariat as soon as possible so we can assist in rectifying the situation – secretariat@shipsupply.org