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Irish government dragging its heals on International Maritime Convention

5 November, 2008

Speaking this afternoon in Brussels Sinn Fein Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has called on member states to respect the Maritime Labour Convention deadline of December 31st 2008 stating “the provisions of the Convention will enhance the future of the maritime sector and in turn help create much needed employment and protections.”

The Dublin MEP was speaking to a motion before the EU Parliament urging member states to ratify the Convention. In March of this year an EU Parliamentary report headed up by Ms McDonald, calling on the EU ‘to enforce minimum employment standards and wages for all vessels operating in its waters, and in particular calls on the European Commission to re-table the proposals for an EU Ferries Directive’ which could directly address all issues raised during the Irish Ferries dispute, was adopted. In May the social partners represented by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers Federation (EFT) agreed to the implementation of the International Convention.

Ms McDonald said:

“The Maritime Labour Convention has the potential to improve the lives of millions of sea farers worldwide. It will address employment terms and conditions for seafarers and will level the playing field for the sector internationally. Without it shipping in Europe will find it difficult to compete as the sector is increasingly undercut by ships flying flags of convenience.

“If ratified by the EU member states and a small number of additional countries the Convention will be binding on an international level and will apply to all ships even those flagged by countries which have not individually ratified it. Critically it has the potential to introduce a culture change within the industry by creating minimum standards and addressing social dumping.

“Ratification by the 2008 deadline is strongly supported by Employers, Trade Unions, the European Commission and, following the adoption of the McDonald Maritime report, by the European Parliament.

“By ratifying the Convention as a matter of urgency Brian Cowen has an opportunity to lead by example. Regrettably the Taoiseach has shown no appetite for leadership in the EU since taking office earlier this year, and on this issue Irish seafarers are paying a heavy price for his inaction.” ENDS

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