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Sailors to enjoy better working rights

Updated: 2015-12-21 08:42
By Peng Yining (China Daily)

Sailors to enjoy better working rights

Cargo is unloaded from a COSCO (HK) Shipping vessel in Australia. Ratification of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention will reduce unfair competition in the shipping industry.[Photo/China Daily]

China's ratification of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention will improve conditions in the world's third-largest merchant fleet and attract more people into the industry. Peng Yining reports.

In 2001, when Zhao Changyou became a merchant sailor at age 25, the first job he was given was scrubbing the greasy floor of a cargo ship's engine room.

The noise was deafening, and the temperature was usually higher than 40 C. Away from his job, there was no bathroom in the cabin he shared with another sailor.

Working conditions have improved greatly in the past 15 years, according to Zhao, who is now chief engineer on an oceangoing freighter. "At least every member of the crew has their own cabin," he said.

Despite recent improvements, the working environment is still tough.

Having recently returned after a two-month voyage in the Pacific, Zhao said his family, in East China's Anhui province, complained that he spoke too loudly, as if he was shouting at them, but without noticing.

"I am used to shouting when working in the noisy engine room, and the noise may have caused some hearing loss, even though I wear earplugs," he said. "Mariners' living and working conditions still need to be improved, or people will leave an industry that is very important to the national economy."

Seafarers' Bill of Rights

Last month, China formally completed its ratification of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention, also known as the Seafarers' Bill of Rights, designed to promote greater adherence to employment law in the shipping industry.

Established by the International Labour Organization, the convention sets minimum requirements for almost every aspect of working conditions at sea, including terms of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare provision and social security protection.

When the convention comes into force in China on Nov 12, 2016, sailors serving on merchant ships flying the Chinese flag will be guaranteed standard working conditions.

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