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Europe wants to implement new measures to improve working conditions at sea.
The European Commission is proposing that an agreement between social partners to improve the working conditions of seafarers on board of EU-flagged vessels, be enshrined in EU law. The proposal will ensure that seafarers are better protected against abandonment in foreign ports in the future, and will strengthen their rights to compensation in the event of death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Maritime transport remains crucial for Europe's economic development. Today's proposal will strengthen seafarers' protection and underpin fair competition in the maritime sector. Improved working conditions will also make the shipping sector more attractive for young Europeans. This proposal is an excellent example of how social partners support the Commission in keeping EU law fit for purpose".
The global nature of the shipping industry, with different national laws applying depending on the state of the ship owner, the flag state of the vessel or the nationality of the crew, make it difficult for seafarers to get speedy and satisfactory redress in case of abandonment, injury or death. What the Commission is proposing are improvements to the existing system.
The proposal will improve seafarers' protection in the event of abandonment, including when the ship owner fails to pay contractual wages for a period of at least two months, or when the ship owner has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support to execute ship operations. This will not only benefit seafarers themselves, but also all EU port authorities, as it will result in fewer problematic cases of abandonment.
The proposal will also improve the mechanisms by which compensation is provided. This will make the payment of claims quicker and easier, which will help avoid the long delays in payment and red tape that seafarers or their families frequently encounter in case of abandonments or in case of death or long-term disability resulting from accidents or illness at work.
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