April 15, 2005

No improvement in shipboard conditions

A coordinated campaign by Port State Control Officers of the Paris MOU found that there has been no improvement in seafarers' living and working conditions since a similar campaign in 1997. New requirements on working arrangements were not observed.

The Paris MOU is a Regional Port State Control system under which 15 EU countries (plus Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation) coordinate their port State inspection effort. With the new members joining the European Union, the MOU is expected to expand to 27 members in the near future. The Baltic States Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria have been granted cooperative status.

In late 2004, Paris MOU maritime authorities carried out a three-month concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on seafarers' living and working conditions. To help ensure focus and efficiency, certain areas covered by the ILO Conventions were addressed during the campaign.

Minimum international standards for the living and working conditions for seafarers are set out in the Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 147). Convention No. 147 is a relevant instrument applied by the Paris MOU as well as the EC Directive on Port State Control.

During the campaign, port State control officers, often in cooperation with port health officers, paid particular attention to the following areas:

food supply and storage;

condition of the galley;

condition of equipment for receiving and producing potable water;

ventilation and heating in accommodation spaces;

sanitary facilities;

hospital accommodation and

condition of accommodation spaces.

The campaign ran from October 1 to December 31, 2004. It revealed that more than 40 percent of the 4,555 ships inspected had deficiencies (total 1,345) in at least one of the selected inspections areas, compared to 25 percent in 1997.

A total of 285 ships were detained during the CIC, of which 21 were detained for ILO matters. Most ILO deficiencies were found in the areas of food storage, condition of the galley, sanitary facilities and hospital accommodation. In most cases the master was instructed to correct the deficiencies without the ship being detained.

Special attention was also paid to the implementation of the Seafarer's Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention, 1996 (No. 180).

As part of this the table with the shipboard arrangement and the records of seafarers' hours of work or rest were checked. In almost 50 percent of all inspections deficiencies (total 2392) were found related to working arrangements. This implies that 64 percent of the deficiencies found (total 3737) during the CIC were ILO No. 180 related.

According to Paris MOU General Secretary Richard Schiferli: "Taking these results into account, there is no room for complacency. Checks on working and living conditions should be part of every port State control inspection. Appropriate sanctions, which include detention, should be taken to rectify intolerable situations on board."

Unsurprisingly, statistics also revealed that ships flying a flag of a State targeted for poor standards concerning maritime safety and marine environmental protection were also found to have poor living and working conditions.

Flag States with the highest deficiency ratio during the campaign were Albania, Algeria, Georgia, Libya, Morocco, Romania, Syria, Togo and Tuvalu.

Ships flying the flag of Algeria, Morocco, Romania and Syria also scored the highest deficiency ratio per flag during the CIC in 1997.

General cargo ships were the worst performing ship type (57 percent), followed by bulk carriers (21 percent).

Ships detained for serious ILO deficiencies were mostly also detained for defects in safety and pollution prevention areas. This, says the Paris MOU, underlines again the vital relation between the human element and all areas of maritime safety and environmental protection. This issue was also raised by Ministers during a Second Joint Ministerial Conference of Paris and Tokyo MOU's held in Vancouver, Canada (November 2004).

Alan Cubbin, Chairman of the Paris MOU Committee, said: "This Concentrated Inspection Campaign shows the commitment to the Paris MOU to enforce the ILO Conventions. It also demonstrates the areas in which Port State Control can be most effective. The detailed analysis will be made available to ILO when the new Consolidated Convention is being considered and the means of enforcement through Port State Control is discussed."

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