The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 ("MLC") was adopted by the International Labour Organisation ("ILO") in February 2006, but it was only this year, on 20 August 2013, that it has come into force.
The MLC aims to protect the rights of all seafarers to fair terms of employment, a safe and secure workplace, medical care and other welfare protection measures. In addition, the MLC also propounds creating conditions of fair competition for shipowners by prohibiting all forms of forced labour and discrimination in employment and occupation. Consequently, with effect from 20 August 2013, ports of countries that have ratified the MLC can inspect the labour compliance of ships from other countries docking at their ports through state control procedures. This is in spite of those ships flying the flag of a non-party country.
The upshot for Thailand, which has yet to ratify the MLC, but whose ships dock at member countries, is that it now has to enact laws or regulations to comply with the MLC. In this regard, the Marine Department has urged the Cabinet to consider and approve its Guidelines for Implementation of Maritime Labour Convention 2006, until such time the Maritime Labour Convention Act officially enters into force.
Separately, the Ministry of Labour has issued two Ministerial Regulations regarding Standards for Maritime Labours, No. 1 and No.2, in June and August 2013, respectively. These two regulations were issued under existing maritime-related laws which include the Navigation in Thai Water Act, the Thai Vessels Act and the Marine Department’s regulations. They are are mainly to standardize Thailand’s maritime labour-related requirements and conditions under, for example, the Seafarers' Agreement, and to ensure that those requirements and conditions are in line with the MLC's framework of documents, e.g. the Statement of Compliance for Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (SoC) and the Declaration of Maritime Labour Certificate (DMLC) which set out all 14 minimal standards for the issuance of a maritime labour certificate as per the MLC.