The safety of seafarers while they ply their trade at sea on a daily basis was further enhanced with the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, (MLC) 2006 by government last month.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, made this disclosure last Saturday during the Day of the Seafarer Awards and Cruise on the Wickham/Lewis Boardwalk, The City.

He pointed out that countries across the world had been working ???energetically??? to improve the conditions and safety of seafarers to ensure that they could achieve their personal goals.

Mr. Sealy said: ???I have the pleasure to report that on June 20, the Government of Barbados deposited with the International Labour Organization???(and Minister Byer Suckoo had that honour), the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. This Convention came into force on August 20???.

???The MLC 2006 sets out minimum rights for seafarers and promotes good employment practices across the shipping industry. It incorporates and builds on 68 existing maritime labour conventions and recommendations to ensure decent working and living standards,??? he added.

The Acting Prime Minister explained that the MLC also stipulated that everyone working on a cruise ship making international voyages is a seafarer and entitled to protection. He noted that this was the first time workers on cruise ships have fallen under such a definition.

???Cruise ship workers will now have the right to a safe and secure workplace, fair terms or employment, decent living and working conditions, access to medical care, health protection and welfare. That is significant for Barbados. We keep saying that the cruise industry is indeed the one that we can look to get our people on board, Mr. Sealy underlined.

He further stated: ???But unfortunately, many of the practices on the cruise ship in the past have been suspected to be fairly diplomatic. With the ratification of this Convention and the determination of the International Maritime Organization, a cruise ship should now fall under the ambit of these Maritime Labour Conventions. When our young people set sail on the cruise vessels they will not come back with many of the horror stories that we have heard about.???

Mr. Sealy also said that the MLC would, among other things, provide a one-stop-shop for labour standards so that all seafarers could enjoy comprehensive protection of their fundamental rights; address a range of matters including the obligations of shipping companies with respect to seafarers??? contractual arrangements; the responsibilities of manning agencies; working hours; health and safety; and the setting up of provisions on welfare including establishing welfare boards and the upgrading of seafarers??? welfare facilities and the establishment of new ones.

During the official ceremony, presentations were made to captain George Fergusson for his contribution of maritime development and infrastructure; Louis Forde for development of the seafaring industry, Rhyan Hackett, for outstanding performance in Maritime Studies; and Richard ???Dirt??? Holder, who was honoured posthumously for bravery in exceptional circumstances.

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