The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), participated as a ratifying member of the Maritime Labor Convention, in its amended version 2006, (MLC 2006, for its acronym in English) of the «Fourth Meeting (part II) of the Special Tripartite Committee of the MLC 2006” of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which was attended by more than 500 delegates from governments, shipowner groups and seafarers, with the aim of guaranteeing the promotion and respect of the rights of seafarers enshrined in the MLC, 2006, amended.
The Republic of Panama, with the aim of improving the living and working conditions of seafarers around the world, supported the proposals for amendments presented (to the code of the Convention) by the groups of governments, groups of shipowners and seafarers. A total of twelve proposals were presented, of which eight were approved by the social partners that are part of the Special Tripartite Committee, two were withdrawn by the group that proposed them and two were postponed for discussion in the next Committee, to be held in 2025.
These proposed amendments grew out of lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and their approval will ensure that:
- Seafarers have personal protective equipment appropriately sized, particularly to accommodate the growing number of women seafarers.
- Good quality drinking water available free of charge to seafarers.
- States further facilitate the prompt repatriation of abandoned seafarers.
- States provide medical attention to seafarers in need of immediate assistance and facilitate the repatriation of the remains of seafarers who have died on board.
- Shipowners provide seafarers with adequate social connectivity and states provide internet access in their ports.
- Seafarers are informed of their rights in relation to the obligation of contracting services and compensation to seafarers for monetary losses.
- All deaths of seafarers are registered and reported annually to the ILO and the relevant data is published.
The amendments adopted by the Special Tripartite Committee will be presented for official approval at the next meeting of the International Labor Conference, which will take place from May 27 to June 11, 2022. If approved, they should enter into force in December 2024.
In addition, three resolutions related to:
- Intimidation and harassment of seafarers, including sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- The financial guarantee system to protect seafarers in case of abandonment.
- The need to adopt measures to ensure that all seafarers have adequate means of contractual redress against shipowners.
In the plenary sessions, Panama made clear its unconditional support to guarantee the recognition of the rights of seafarers who work on board its ships, extolling the responsibility of flag states and port states to achieve this end. Thus, support was expressed while thanking the amendment proposal that sought to unify and establish the maximum period of service on board for seafarers, since we were the only country that announced on September 14, 2020, that it would no longer be issuing more extensions of the maximum period of service on board for seafarers who worked on ships of the Panamanian Registry given the COVID -19 pandemic, since as of that date (September 14, 2020) repatriations were possible and returned to this strict compliance with the provisions established in the MLC, 2006, as amended.
It is important to add that Panama, being the largest registry in the world with more than 8,500 flag vessels and more than 300,000 thousand seafarers who bear our license, only maintains so far, 15 active cases of abandoned seafarers, which are currently being addressed for the search for a prompt solution, this being a proportionally low percentage.