SIU Official, Other Speakers
Point Out Benefits of MLC

 

December 2012

 

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SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel was a featured speaker Nov. 16 at a symposium co-sponsored by the Seamen’s Church Institute, the Charleston (S.C.) School of Law, and the Charleston Maritime Law Institute. He and other guest speakers discussed the importance of the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 (MLC), and its anticipated effects on the U.S. maritime industry.

 

In addition to his duties with the SIU, Heindel servers as chairman of the Seafarers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), to which the union is affiliated. He was joined at the symposium (which took place in Charleston) by fellow guest speakers Bruce Carlton, head of the U.S. delegation to the International Labor Organization; and Joseph Cox, president and CEO of the Chamber of Shipping of America. All of them played roles in helping advance the MLC.

 

Heindel described the MLC as among the most important pieces of international maritime legislation in the last 100 years, both for the U.S. and other nations. He briefly reviewed the history of maritime conventions as a way of explaining the general state of today’s industry. That description included a candid look at so-called flags of convenience or runaway flags and how they affect mariners.

 

He also stated, “The MLC incorporates the fundamental principles of many ILO conventions and updates standards of 68 existing ILO conventions into one document. This new seafarers bill of rights is truly the Magna Carta of the modern merchant marine and is arguably the most important convention covering migratory workers which has ever been adopted. It sets out comprehensive international standards for seafarers.”

 

Set to take effect in August 2013, the MLC “provides solutions to contemporary economic and social challenges and is a way forward to secure justice, equality, fairness and human dignity for everyone concerned,” Heindel noted.

 

“The MLC provides comprehensive minimum rights and protection at work for the world’s more than 1.5 million seafarers. It aims to achieve both decent employment for seafarers and secure economic interests in fair competition for quality shipowners. As an estimated 90 percent of world trade is carried on ships, seafarers are essential to international trade and the international economic and trade system.”

 

He then examined some of the convention’s details and finished by telling or reminding audience members that the MLC “will have an impact on all vessels in the international trades whether their flag state has ratified it or not. The impact on our laws and regulations are minimal and what they do not cover is mostly covered by our collective bargaining agreements. In fact, U.S. laws and regulations exceed most of the provisions provided for under the code.”

 

In closing, he called on the U.S. to ratify the MLC, stating, “As the leader of the free world, the United States has an obligation to ratify and enforce the new convention to assure a level playing field for responsible ship owners and the occupational well-being of the world’s seafarers.”

 

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