EU Shipping Law

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European Union law relating to employment in the shipping sector

A. Introduction

8.001 The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of selected aspects of the European Union (“EU”) law relating to the employment of people in the shipping sector and, in particular, seafarers.1 This chapter should be read in conjunction with the earlier chapter on the registration of ships2 and other chapters in the book3 because employment touches on various aspects of EU law. It is not proposed to set out the whole of the EU law relating to employment (which would justify a book in its own right) but to concentrate on certain aspects of EU law as they relate to employment in the shipping sector. In principle, the EU law relating to shore-based staff should be the same as on-board personnel but the EU has historically made a number of exceptions for seafarers to deny them some of the protections afforded to shore-based workers but those differences are being removed slowly as will be described in this chapter generally. It is also worth recalling that the employment of some workers in the sector – specifically, dockers – has proved very controversial with rioting in the streets in Brussels when the European Commission sought to change the rules on ports.4 8.002 In trying to contextualise the issue of employment in the maritime sector, it is useful to review the Athens Declaration of 7 May 2014 entitled Mid-Term Review of the EU’s Maritime Transport Policy until 2018 and Outlook to 2020 in which the EU’s Transport Ministers stressed:

“that competent seafarers with appropriate working conditions and employment rights are an essential prerequisite for global sea trade, and that the implementation of the ILO5 Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) and of the IMO6 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), as amended by the 2010 Manila amendments, is an important step to create a uniform and enforceable framework for the working and living conditions on board ships and the protection of the health, safety and standards of

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competence of seafarers, thus substantially contributing to a more positive image of the maritime profession, thereby contributing to the recruitment of seafarers”.

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