Myan­mar to bring mar­itime labour laws up to stan­dard

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

FOL­LOW­ING its rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 2006 Mar­itime Labour Con­ven­tion in May, the Myan­mar govern­ment is work­ing to bring the coun­try’s sea­far­ing laws up to in­ter­na­tional stan­dard.

On Oc­to­ber 3 to 4, a seminar in Yan­gon in­volved rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the ILO, the govern­ment, sea­far­ers unions and mar­itime em­ploy­ment agen­cies.

Once a coun­try rat­i­fies the Mar­itime Labour Con­ven­tion, it has one year to im­ple­ment its terms into do­mes­tic law. The pur­pose of this week’s seminar was to re­view Myan­mar’s cur­rent mar­itime laws and de­ter­mine what needs to be done to en­sure the coun­try com­plies with its obli­ga­tions un­der the con­ven­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to sea­far­ers or­gan­i­sa­tions, many ship work­ers are ex­ploited by bro­kers, who profit at their ex­pense, and are asked to pay large sums of money to ship own­ers in or­der to gain em­ploy­ment.

“Many sea­far­ers are de­ceived or swin­dled by em­ploy­ment bro­kers. Some give up their labour rights and some are sent to work on un­safe ships. Now our coun­try has rat­i­fied the MLC, our sea­far­ers will be pro­tected in­ter­na­tion­ally from these un­scrupu­lous prac­tices,” said U Aung Kyaw Lin, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the In­de­pen­dent Fed­er­a­tion of Myan­mar Sea­far­ers, the seminar’s or­gan­iser.

Tighter reg­u­la­tion of sea­farer re­cruit­ment and place­ment ser­vices was high­lighted as a key area for re­form.

“Sea­far­ers or­gan­i­sa­tions and unions are very happy with the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the MLC. It gives us greater ne­go­ti­a­tion power as now we can point to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards which must be ad­hered to,” said U San Thein, pres­i­dent of the Myan­mar Sea­farer Fed­er­a­tion.

He added that the Myan­mar govern­ment must do more to mon­i­tor sub­stan­dard re­cruiters who send work­ers to ships which have poor fa­cil­i­ties, salaries, safety and pro­tec­tion, and ask for large sums of money to do so.

U Aung Kyaw Lin added that the govern­ment would also need to ad­dress a lack of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for sea­far­ers as well as tak­ing ac­tion to en­sure that they are paid ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion when they are in­jured or killed.

“Our pre­vi­ous govern­ment ne­glected the af­fairs of Myan­mar sea­far­ers. In the past peo­ple who made claims to the In­ter­na­tional Trans­porta­tion Fed­er­a­tion [an in­ter­na­tional union] would be pun­ished,” he added.

In­de­pen­dent Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent U Zaw Aung lauded the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the MLC, say­ing that it would lead to bet­ter wages and con­di­tions for mar­itime work­ers.

Myan­mar was the 75th coun­try to rat­ify the MLC, which sets out a range of rights and pro­tec­tions for mar­itime work­ers as well as a strong com­pli­ance and en­force­ment mech­a­nism based on sig­na­tory state in­spec­tion and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of sea­far­ers’ work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions.

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