**Sen. the Hon. Dion Foulkes
Minister of Labour & Maritime Affairs**
The Bahamas has handed over its Instruments of Ratification for the historic **ILO Maritime Labour Convention**.
*”The Bahamas had an important role in the development and final adoption of this convention,”* according to Sen. the Hon. Dion A. Foulkes. As Minister with responsibility for the double portfolio of Labour and Maritime Affairs, he added that he was proud to ratify the convention at this time. *”The Bahamas has a demonstrated commitment to ensuring that ships flying The Bahamas flag are high-quality shipping operations. This necessarily includes ensuring conditions of decent work for those that work on Bahamas-registered ships.”*
During ceremonies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Brent Symonette, pointed out that the signing and ratifying of the convention was another clear indication of The Bahamas’ ongoing commitment to maritime safety and good labor practice. He said,*”Indeed, a well-trained labor force governed by just, fair and equitable laws will not only redound to the good quality of the register but will also ensure the sustainability of best practice and standards in maritime affairs.”* He added that The Bahamas is pleased to be among the first countries to ratify this important Convention which speaks emphatically to its strong commitment to be in the forefront of maritime safety in an ever-changing sector.
The Maritime Labour Convention sets out the minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship, and is described as the “third pillar” in international shipping regulation, complementing the major maritime Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on environmental protection and ship safety and security. It establishes a strong compliance and enforcement mechanism based on flag State inspection and certification of seafarers’ working and living conditions. This is supported by port State inspection of these ships to ensure ongoing compliance between inspections.
The Convention also contains provisions allowing it to keep in step with the needs of the industry and help secure universal application and enforcement. It sets minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship and contains provisions on conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. Often referenced as the “super convention”, it is aimed at protecting the world’s 1.2 million or more seafarers, and it addresses the evolving realities and needs of an industry that handles 90 percent of the world’s trade.
Accepting the ratification instruments was Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department. She also confirmed that the signing and ratification provides a clear indication of the continued commitment of The Bahamas to international labor standards and the ILO. *”It illustrates the leadership role of The Bahamas in the maritime industry and its determination to ensure quality shipping based on a strong socio-economic foundation and respect for the environment and decent conditions of work for seafarers.”*
With the ratification The Bahamas will become an automatic and voting member of the Special Tripartite Committee created under the Convention, once it enters into force. Reportedly, the move by The Bahamas marks a major step toward achieving the goal of bringing the Convention into force in the next few years. Ratification by The Bahamas now brings the ILO even closer to meeting the requirement for entry into force of the Convention, namely its ratification by at least 30 ILO member States with a total share of at least 33 per cent of world gross tonnage.
Currently the third largest register in the world, The Bahamas’ Ship Registry has over 1,700 vessels, amounting to some 43 million gross tons.