MLC Annual Report 2023 by AMSA (May 2024)

MLC Annual Report 2023 by AMSA (May 2024)

The AMSA MLC Annual Report 2023 analyses complaints received by AMSA and inspection activities to ensure MLC compliance in Australian waters, as well as the agency’s follow-up actions.

The MLC aims to establish minimum standards for living and working conditions for seafarers worldwide, covering a wide range of issues such as employment conditions, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, and social security.

MLC complaints received.

In 2023, AMSA received 214 complaints representing an 18% decrease on the number received in 2022 (261). The number of complaints has continued to decline from the peak of 320 in 2020. The reduced frequency of complaints is indicative of industry and operators continued adjustment following the COVID-19 pandemic peak but is still higher than pre-Covid levels.

Of the complaints received in 2023, breaches of employment conditions were the most common, such as issues with wages, hours worked and hours of rest while at sea.

The majority of complaints received by AMSA in 2023 originated from seafarers themselves, indicating seafarers are aware of, and trust, Australia’s reputation as a nation that takes seafarer welfare matters seriously. 



Follow up to complaints received.

Since 2018, a total of 25 vessels have been issued with a direction notice refusing them access to Australian ports.  Of these vessels, 14 were banned for serious breaches of the MLC primarily relating to underpayment of wages, decent working and living conditions and inadequate provisions. Over $95,000 USD was recovered from vessels in 2023. In 2023, one vessel was banned from Australian ports due to MLC breaches.

The reasons for the ban included systemic underpayment of wages and seafarers being coerced into signing new employment agreements. The vessel was banned for a period of 12 months. In 2023, follow up investigations of MLC complaints resulted in 24 vessels receiving MLC-related deficiencies, five of which were detained.



Breakdown of complaints by vessel type

In 2023, 58.9% of complaints received were from seafarers engaged on bulk carriers. This is a 3.6% reduction from the 2022 complaints. Bulk carriers accounted for 50.4% of all arrivals and 51.6% of initial port State control (PSC) inspections.

Complaints received by MLC titles.

The main body of the MLC (the regulations and the code) is grouped into five main titles with data coded accordingly:

MLC Title 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Title 1 Minimum requirements 3 1 1 2 0
Title 2 Conditions of employment 124 480 292 234 169
Title 3 Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering 39 47 51 68 60
Title 3 Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering 55 73 88 100 81
Title 4 Health protection, medical care, welfare, social security protection 0 1 0 7 4

Michael Drake said while Australia’s tough action on seafarer welfare and working conditions had resulted in a reduction of complaints there is still much work to do, as severe underpayment, decrepit living conditions and difficulties returning to their home country are some of the abuses seafarers endure from poor employers.

“Seafarers are the backbone of the global economy, and when they are in an unacceptable working and living condition, they often suffer in silence. That’s why AMSA takes every complaint it receives seriously and provides support, through the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council, to organizations that provide essential services for seafarers”.

… said Drake.

Credit: AMSA & Safety4Sea


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