Today marks the entry into force of the first set of amendments to the MLC 2006, and not before time. The amendments mean all ships whose flag states have ratified the convention must have adequate cover to assist seafarers in cases of abandonment.
Abandonment has a devastating effect on seafarers and their families, not only does it entail protracted time away from loved ones often onboard substandard ships with little or no provisions, the consequences of seafarers returning home without any wages can often mean, homelessness and no education for children.
As of today, however, seafarers must receive; ‘adequate food, accommodation, drinking water supplies, essential fuel for survival on board the ship and necessary medical care.’ The key word is ‘survival’ because living on board a ‘dead ship’ is life threatening. Importantly, the financial security system must cover, in addition to essential supplies, outstanding wages, for up to four months. The Mission to Seafarers welcomes the fact that the shipping industry has formally recognised the exploitation, abuse and general injustice of abandonment.
Ken Peters, Director of Justice & Public Affairs said: “While we welcome these amendments they will not stop cases of abandonment altogether. Seafarers around the globe can rest assured that The Mission to Seafarers remains resolutely committed to supporting seafarers who are abandoned and in need of repatriation. Laws give seafarers entitlements, but it is The Mission to Seafarers that practically obtains the medical care, provides fuel, food and drinking water and then takes them to the airports for flights home. Furthermore, these amendments provide a unique opportunity for the industry and welfare associations to work collaboratively in ensuring a speedy resolution in cases of abandonment, which is of course in the interests of all parties concerned, especially seafarers and their families.”