Working conditions for seafarers

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Coming soon

Over the course of the next few months, the content of this site will expand rapidly.

Among the topics we aim to cover, are the governance structures of EU maritime law, inland waterway transport, rules applying to seafarers, trade regulations, security issues, port regulations and competion law.

International law on social conditions in maritime transport dates back to the 1920s. The special nature and conditions of life and work of seafarers has led the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to adopt dozens of Conventions and Recommendations setting labour standards specifically for the maritime sector. The 2006 ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) consolidates these, setting out seafarersۥ rights to decent conditions of work. It also helps to establish conditions for fair competition for shipowners. It will enter into force in August 2013.

Shipbord living and working conditions are subject to EU law via port State control. Working time of seafarers also is regulated by Union law.

International law

ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC). The text of the convention is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, German, Portuguese and Russian on the ILO web site. The ILO also has its own topic page on the convention here.

Seafarers’ Identity Documents (Revised) Convention, 2003. Available in full text here.

Work in Fishing Convention and Recommendation, 2007 Available in full text here.

EU ratification

Council Decision 2007/431/EC of 7 June 2007 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Community, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, of the International Labour Organisation. Available at OJ L 161, 22.6.2007, p. 63. Among EU-Member States ratified by Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden. Among the EEA-Member States ratified by Norway.

Council Directive 2009/13/EC of 16 February 2009 implementing the Agreement concluded by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, and amending Directive 1999/63/EC. Available at OJ L 124, 20.5.2009, p. 30.

Council Recommendation 78/584/EEC of 26.6.1978 on the ratification of Conventions on safety in shipping. Available at OJ L 194, 19.7.1978, p. 17.

Commission Implementing Decision of 17 December 2014 on the recognition of Japan pursuant to Directive 2008/106/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the systems for training and certification of seafarers. Full text (PDF)

European law

Directive 2013/54/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 concerning certain flag State responsibilities for compliance with and enforcement of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Full text (PDF)

Directive 2009/16/EC on Port State Control (recast). Available in full text (PDF format) here. Recast of Directive 95/21/EC concerning the enforcement, in respect of shipping using Community ports and sailing in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Member States, of international standards for ship safety, pollution prevention and shipboard living and working conditions (port State control).

Directive 1999/63/EC of 21 June 1999 concerning the Agreement on the organisation of working time of seafarers concluded by the European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA) and the Federation of Transport Workers' Unions in the European Union (FST). Available in full text (PDF format) here.

Directive 1999/95/EC of 13.12.1999 concerning the enforcement of provisions in respect of seafarers’ hours of work on board ships calling at Community ports. Available at OJ L 14, 20.12000, p. 29.

Cases before the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

Case C‑646/11, Falles Fagligt Forbund (3F), judgment of 24.1.2013.

Case C-106/11, M.J. Bakker v. Minister van Financiën.

Case C-384/10, Jan Voogsgeer v. Navimer SA.

Case C‑438/05, The International Transport Workers’ Federation and The Finnish Seamen’s Union v. Viking Line ABP and OÜ Viking Line Eesti.

Statements of EU Institutions

Commission 3.7.2008: IP/08/1093 “Social partners’ agreement to improve standards for 300,000 maritime workers across Europe”

Written Questions by Members of the European Parliament (rule 117)

Written Question E-002187/2011 by Jan Kozłowski: “Labour market and the maritime professions” with answer by Commissioner Siim Kallas of 19.4.2011. Question and answer available here.

Written Question E-4050/08 by Proinsias De Rossa: “Member States ratification of the 2006 Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention” with answer by Commissioner Antonio Tajani of 5.9.2008. Question and answer available here.

Written Question E-2524/08 by Brian Simpson: “Social dumping in the maritime ferry sector” with answer by Commissioner Špidla of 23.6.2008. Question and answer available here.

Written Question E-2167/02 by Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna: “Accident rate on board Community fishing vessels” with answer of Commissioner Dimantopoulou of 3.9.2002. Available at OJ C 192 E, 14.8.2003, p. 53.

Supplement: Free movement of workers

Commission 24.11.2010: IP/10/1548 “Free movement of workers: Commission seeks Greece’s compliance with Court ruling on seafarers”

Commission 27.1.2011: IP/11/82 “Free movement of workers: Commission requests United Kingdom to end pay discrimination of non-UK seafarers”

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