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to ensure ships visiting the UK are MLC- compliant, and so do not gain a competitive advantage by ignoring the convention. It is essential that UK companies have the maximum time possible to adjust their practical arrangements to meet the UK’s implementing regulations. If the ratification takes place as expected in summer this year, the short timescale will make it extremely difficult for companies to prepare fully for certification of their ships as MLC-compliant. While ‘provisional certificates’ are available pending full implementation, this doesn’t address the heart of the issue.

Fair play Unfortunately, the MLC situation is not an isolated example of regulatory delays and red tape-cutting inflexibility having unintended negative consequences on parts of the shipping industry. Recently, the deregulation approval process delayed a proposed annual amendment to the Payment In Lieu of Training (PILOT) penalty – ie payments companies are required to make for failing to fulfil their training obligations under the tonnage tax scheme – meaning that the October deadline for implementation was missed. Fortunately, the change was introduced in January 2013. By not approving the annual increase in the PILOT statutory penalty on time – which required only a simple change in figures

Rather than liberating us

from bureaucracy, the inflexibility of the process is delaying implementation of good regulation

rather than new legislation – it effectively placed companies that adhered to the rules of the scheme in a worse financial situation, temporarily, than those defaulting on the training obligation. Such damaging delays in the regulatory process undermine both the intentions of the industry regulations and the credibility of the Government’s deregulation policy.

Moving forward Ultimately, it makes no sense that good regulation that is required and desired by the industry to which it is directed, should be subject to an inflexible regulatory system. In a highly competitive global market, the UK shipping industry is looking for a deregulation policy to help, not hinder, its ability to do business internationally. In a regulatory climate that tolerates such delay, what price UK leadership in the future?

THE MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION l is an International Labour Organization (ILO) convention established in 2006

l consolidates and updates over 68 maritime labour standards since 1920 l is the ‘fourth pillar’ of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, alongside the IMO’s SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL conventions

l provides comprehensive rights at work for the world’s 1.2m seafarers l includes standards for training, pay, leave, accommodation and healthcare

l creates a level playing field for shipowners, protecting them from unfair competition from substandard ships.


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