ILO Protocol on Seafarers' Conditions Sets International Legal Precedent

Tuesday, March 05, 2002
The International Labor Organization (ILO) campaign for minimum standards at work for seafarers has received an important boost with the forthcoming entry into force of two key international labor standards governing hours of work and the right to inspect ships. The 1996 Protocol to Convention No. 147* is set to make an international legal precedent as the first international instrument to allow countries to inspect ships purely because of concerns over seafarers' hours of work. The inspections will be legal even on ships that are sailing under the flag of a country which has not ratified Convention 147 or the Protocol. The Protocol will come into force on January 10, 2003. Malta's ratification gave it the necessary number of signatories to become law - it has also achieved the required support of at least three countries each with one million gross tonnage of shipping: Ireland, Sweden, and the UK. Convention No. 180 (Seafarers' Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships), which stipulates maximum working hours and minimum hours of rest, has also gained the required ratifications and will come into force on 8 August 2002. The Convention limits seafarers to a maximum of 14 hours work (or a minimum 10 hours rest) in any 24 hour period, and a maximum 72 hours work (or 77 hours rest) in any seven day period. Fatigue due to excessive working hours has previously been cited as a cause of accidents. As part of the ILO's efforts to eliminate child labor across the world, the Convention forbids children under 16 from working aboard ships in any circumstances. The Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976, No. 147
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