Nov 22, 2011

New laws to protect shipping crews

Crews working on commercial ships in Australian waters will have their working conditions protected after laws introduced by the Gillard Government passed through Parliament.

Australia will be the 19th country which has ratified the laws to comply with a Maritime Labour Convention set by the International Labour Organization.

Australia’s adoption of these laws means more than half the world’s shipping is now covered.

The Convention sets standards for:

  • minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship
  • conditions of employment
  • accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering
  • health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection
  • compliance and enforcement.

It will modernise more than 60 international labour standards going back over eight decades.

The implementation of the MLC in Australia will not result in significant changes for seafarers on Australian ships because they are already provided with good working conditions.

But these new laws will help to ensure that good working conditions are maintained on Australian ships and that the seafarers working on all other ships that enter Australian ports have the same conditions.

It will also have the effect of reducing the likelihood of accidents that may result in pollution damage or loss of life or injury to seafarers.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will also be able to board foreign ships to ensure compliance with the new laws.

These changes are strongly supported by the maritime industry, unions and employer groups.