How many out of every 100 seafarers have actually read ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006? Not very many, we suspect. And yet it’s the “Bill of Rights” for seafarers and the full text is free to read and copy from the website of the International Labour Organization. Unlike the International Maritime Organization, the ILO has had the decency not to copyright and restrict the distribution of ILO conventions or act like a bookstore instead of a proper world body that serves the interests of seafarers and other workers.

In addition, there’s a mountain of free information about MLC 2006 in the internet for the benefit of seafarers. And now Lloyd’s Register and the UK P&I Club have developed the ILO MLC Pocket Checklist – a smartphone and tablet app to help masters, officers and managers prepare for inspections against the MLC 2006 requirements. We understand that the free app will be available later this week from the iPhone App Store, Google Play, Windows Store and BlackBerry AppWorld. Copies in conventional format can also be downloaded from www.webstore.lr.org or www.ukpandi.com.

Surely, more can be done. The successful implementation of MLC 2006 depends as much on shipowners complying with its provisions as on seafarers understanding their rights under the new protocol. MLC 2006, we dare say, should be taught in all maritime academies and made part of pre-departure orientation seminars for ship’s crews. For what shall it profit a seafarer if he knows celestial navigation, trim & stability or ECDIS and knows not his basic rights? ~Barista Uno

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