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Press Release

Crucial updates to the Guidelines on the Application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention for the industry

1 June 2023

The shipping industry is being urged to take notice of the latest amendments to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) detailed in a new publication update from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), to ensure they comply and can operate and trade globally with their vessels.

ICS Publications has published the fourth edition of Guidelines on the Application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, providing crucial updates to the shipping industry on its mandatory employment standards and best practices, to ensure compliance with the Convention and the obligations of maritime employers which the Convention sets out.

Two million merchant seafarers are employed across the world, with the shipping industry as the only industrial sector to have such a comprehensive global regime in place with standards strictly enforced by governments worldwide, through a system of flag state inspections and port state control.

ICS has been a part of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention since it came into force a decade ago with Helio Vicente, Senior Manager (Policy and Employment Affairs) at ICS, commenting:

“ICS is committed to helping shipping companies provide decent work for the seafarers they employ and the latest edition of this publication gives employers all the information they need about best practice and amendments which have been made to the Convention since 2013. This includes vital updates in response to some of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic which were agreed by the ILO MLC in 2022.”

“Pursuing a career at sea is a fantastic choice with excellent employment conditions but it is important that we continue to improve the good employment practices and standards which are vital for the maritime industry to attract and retain the dedicated and high calibre workforce which the future of the industry will depend on.”

This new edition builds on the previous editions, featuring a clearer layout, infographics and visual aids to improve the reader’s experience including checklists highlighting exactly what companies need to do or create an action plan for things they are not already doing. The Guidelines can be used as a tool to distil the convention to a practical level eliminating the need to go through the convention document itself providing clarity for the readers to follow the changes that will affect them. It also provides practical experience and guidance which has been obtained since the Convention came into force. The Guidelines are easy to navigate, with added colour coding to aid readers with understanding the various regulations, standards and guidelines, and the latest ILO MLC requirements agreed in 2022 have been highlighted.

The Guidelines on the Application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention sets out the fundamental rights of seafarers and responsibilities of employers under the MLC. It includes amendments from the ILO MLC 2022, which includes ensuring seafarers have appropriately-size personal protective equipment (PPE) particularly for the increasing number of women seafarers and that medical care for seafarers is provided for those in need of immediate assistance. It also details that seafarers should be provided with appropriate social connectivity by shipowners and states providing internet access in their ports.

A key update following the COVID-19 pandemic, confirms seafarers as key workers with all three specialised UN agencies WHO, ILO and IMO, recognising that seafarer transit is fundamental to world trade. While shipping companies must make efforts to prevent the spread of disease, seafarers must be treated as a different category of worker and given the right support to help continue to trade.

For more information and to order the new edition of Guidelines on the Application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, please visit:

Notes to editors

About ICS 

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for shipowners and operators, concerned with all technical, legal employment affairs and policy issues that may affect international shipping. ICS membership comprises national shipowners’ associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world’s merchant tonnage.

ICS Publications develops and promotes shipping industry best practices and guidance through a wide range of publications and free resources that are used by ship operators globally.

Media contact

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