The European Commission is proposing that an agreement between the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) — in eurospeak "the social partners — be enshrined in EU law.
In essence, the agreement would bring EU law into alignment with amendments to the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) agreed by the International Labor Organization adopted the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) at its 103rd session in Geneva on June 11, 2014, with all EU Member states voting in favor.
The European Commission says that the proposal will ensure that seafarers are better protected against abandonment in foreign ports in the future, and will strengthen their rights to compensation in the event of death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Maritime transport remains crucial for Europe's economic development. Today's proposal will strengthen seafarers' protection and underpin fair competition in the maritime sector. Improved working conditions will also make the shipping sector more attractive for young Europeans. This proposal is an excellent example of how social partners support the Commission in keeping EU law fit for purpose."
The proposal will improve seafarers' protection in the event of abandonment, including when the ship owner fails to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months, or when the ship owner has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support to execute ship operations. This will not only benefit seafarers themselves, but also all EU port authorities, as it will result in fewer problematic cases of abandonment.
The proposal will also improve the mechanisms by which compensation is provided. This will make the payment of claims quicker and easier, which will help avoid the long delays in payment and red tape that seafarers or their families frequently encounter in case of abandonments or in case of death or long-term disability resulting from accidents or illness at work.