by: Roger Blanpain, Desislava Nikolaeva Dimitrova
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The enormous technological, financial, and structural changes of recent
decades have revolutionized the international shipping industry, bringing
about lower freight rates, shorter time in port and fast turnarounds,
reduction in crew size, employment of cheap labour from developing countries,
avoidance of national regulations and taxes, and diminished living and working
standards on board. Exploitation of seafarers has always existed, but now it
has become more common and frequent. Shipowners can cut costs in various ways,
but the most profitable and easiest to achieve are those at the expense of
labour costs, in particular costs for maintaining proper living conditions on
board the ship.
This bulletin examines in detail the structure of the shipping industry,
focusing on problems concerning the working and living conditions of seafarers
on board merchant ships serving the global sea transport system. Exploring all
levels of maritime policymaking on a global and European level, the author
analyses seafarers’ rights in the light of international enforcement
mechanisms and particularly in the light of the recent ILO Maritime Labour
Convention. He also considers relevant case law, as well as advisory opinions
and policy statements from various pertinent agencies, especially in the EU
Among the issues raised and discussed in depth in relation to their
effect on seafarers’ labour standards are the following:
• ship manning companies;
• illicit crewing agencies;
• flags of convenience;
• hours of work and rest;
• occupational health and safety;
• accommodation, food, water, and catering;
• recreational facilities;
• filing of grievance; and
• port controls.
The author shows that, expansion and progress of the maritime industry
notwithstanding, there is a great need for effective enforcement mechanisms in
this area. This is the first detailed analysis to connect the working and
living conditions of seafarers with international, supranational, and national
maritime legislation. A giant step towards establishing a global monitoring
system to enforce international maritime conventions regarding seafarers’
labour standards, it is sure to make an important contribution to both
international labour and employment law and the law of the sea.
List of Figures.
List of Tables.
List of Abbreviations.
Part I: The World of Shipping: A General Overview.
1. Shipping and World Trade.
2. Ownership Organization and Finance.
3. Ship Manning Companies.
4. Flag States and Regulations.
Part ІІ: The Seafarer: A Profile .
6. The Global Labour Market.
7. Seafarer’s Profession.
Part III: Employment Relationships.
9. Collective Labour Relations.
10. Individual Labour Relations.
Part IV: Implementation and Enforcement of Seafarers’ Rights at the
International Scene. 12. Grievance, Applicable Law and Jurisdictions.
13. Maritime Labour Convention.
14. EU Maritime Law Policy and Implementation of the MLC at European
Part V: General Conclusion.
Appendices: Figures. Tables.