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Gov’t seeking improved working conditions for seafarers

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Gov’t seeking improved working conditions for seafarers

Thursday, November 05, 2020

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MINISTER of Transport and Mining Robert Montague on Tuesday tabled in the House of Representatives a Bill to amend the Shipping Act, to improve the working conditions of seafarers.

The Bill is aimed at amending the Act to make more complete provisions for the living and working conditions as well as the rights of seafarers, in line with the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006.

According to the minister, “the amendments will ensure that Jamaica is able to meet its obligation under the convention, and the Bill will give effect to that decision”.

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, which was adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization, defines “seafarers” as any person engaged by or on behalf of the owner of a ship, to perform any work on board a ship. These tasks include manning the operations, shopkeeping, providing entertainment or food services, bartending, cosmetology, or any form of hospitality.

However, it excludes any person engaged solely to perform a task that is not part of the routine operations of the vessel, or part of the services or amenities offered on board the ship.

Jamaican ships of 500 gross tonnage or over, which are engaged in voyages to ports outside of Jamaican waters, and similar ships engaged in voyages between ports in another country, fall under the convention.

Montague told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday that the new provision will protect Jamaican seafarers from various forms of abuse while working on vessels.

The owner of the vessel is required to ensure that a copy of the declaration of maritime labour compliance, and the maritime labour certificate, in respect of the ship, are posted conspicuously aboard the vessel and a copy made available upon request by any seafarer.

Jamaica was re-elected to serve on the council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at its 31st session in London, a year ago. This followed a request for support for its candidacy by Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the International Seabed Authority’s 25th commemorative ceremony at the Jamaica Conference Centre in July, 2019.

Jamaica, which was returned for a second-successive term, is serving alongside The Bahamas as the two Caribbean countries on the IMO Council for the 2020-2021 biennium.

Montague, who led the country’s delegation to the London Assembly, said that Jamaica’s performance then, on the world stage, with other maritime powers, yielded the positive result.

— Balford Henry

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