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UN maritime labor convention comes into force

The International Labor Organization (ILO) [official website] Maritime Labor Convention [text] came into effect [press release] Tuesday. The international standards, originally adopted by the ILO in 2006, required ratification by a minimum of 30 ILO member states to come into force as international law, with the additional requirement that the countries ratifying the standards represent 33 percent of the world's gross shipping tonnage. Currently, 48 countries [ILO report] have ratified the convention, representing over 70 percent of the world's gross shipping tonnage. In a statement [video statement], ILO Director-General Guy Ryder called "on all countries with a maritime interest to ratify—if they have not yet done so—and urge[d] governments and shipowners to work effectively to implement this Convention." The newly accepted standards are supported by international trade groups including the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Shipowners Federation (ISF) [official websites].

The Maritime Labor Convention is considered [JURIST report] a bill of rights applicable to maritime workers that sets minimum standards for wages, work-to-rest ratios, and lays out comprehensive health and safety standards. The labor standards will apply to the 1.2 million workers who work on ships weighing more than 500 gross tonnes, excluding those who are employed by fishing ships and traditional vessels such as junks. The ILO attributes 90 percent of all shipping accidents to preventable human error, which is considerably worsened by fatigue. Most of the goods that are traded between nations are transported by ships, which predominantly employ workers from developing countries with inadequate labor standards.

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