The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 otherwise known as the ‘seafarers’ bill of rights’ builds on sixty eight existing maritime labour conventions and recommendations, as well as more general fundamental principles, to ensure decent working and living conditions for all seafarers. Some important conventions not included are those relating to seafarers’ identity documents (ILO 108 & 105) and pensions (ILO 71.)

The MLC is designed to sit alongside regulation such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards on ship safety, security and quality ship management (such as SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL.) Where they deal more with the vessel and its operation, the MLC deals more with seafarers’ rights, it should be remembered that MLC, 2006 sets out minimum requirements: many flag states that ratify the Convention may have higher standards. States may not reduce existing rights when they ratify a new convention.The International Labour Convention, Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC, 2006) came into force on 20th August 2013.

For more detailed information on MLC, 2006 visit

MLC, 2006 starts with a Preamble setting out the context in which the Convention was adopted. Then come the Articles, covering general obligations for the States ratifying the Convention, the fundamental rights and principles and how the Convention works. After that, come the Regulations and The Code.

This part is divided into five titles:

     Title 1: Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship

     Title 2: Conditions of employment

     Title 3: Accommodation, recreation facilities, food and catering

     Title 4: Health protection, medical care, welfare
and social

                 security protection

     Title 5: Compliance and enforcement

In each title there are Regulations, Standards and Guidelines. The Regulations are general, non-negotiable points of principle. The Standards are referred to as Part A, and the Guidelines as Part B. Part Ais mandatory, Part B contains recommendations that set out in more detail how Part A can be put into practice, and has to be given due consideration. Together Part A (the standards – mandatory) and Part B (the guidelines) are called The Code.

Our pilot project concentrates on 'Regulation 4.4 - Access to shore-based welfare facilities and its associated Standards and Guidelines'.  The purpose of this regulation is: 'To ensure that seafarers working on board a ship have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being', and:

1. Each Member shall ensure that shore-based welfare facilities, where they exist, are easily accessible. The Member shall also promote the development of welfare facilities, such as those listed in the Code, in designated ports to provide seafarers on ships that are in its ports with access to adequate welfare facilities and services.

2. The responsibilities of each Member with respect to shore-based facilities such as welfare, cultural, recreational and information facilities and services, are set out in the Code.

Standard A4.4 – Access to shore-based welfare facilities

1. Each Member shall require, where welfare facilities exist on its territory, that they are available for the use of all seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion or social origin and irrespective of the flag State of the ship on which they are employed or engaged or work.

2. Each Member shall promote the development of welfare facilities in appropriate ports of the country and determine, after consultation with the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations concerned, which ports are to be regarded as appropriate.

3. Each Member shall encourage the establishment of welfare boards which shall regularly review welfare facilities and services to ensure that they are appropriate in the light of changes in the needs of seafarers resulting from technical, operational and other developments in the shipping industry.