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Developing labour standards for representation on ships

Graham, Carolyn 2018. Developing labour standards for representation on ships. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Merchant shipping is considered one of the most dangerous industries for workers’ health and safety. The International Labour Organization (ILO), the agency responsible for regulating global labour standards, developed the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) as what it describes as a “firm response” to an identified “deficit in decent work” on ships due to economic globalization. The MLC is therefore seen as an important instrument to govern employment and working conditions on commercial ships towards some positive outcomes in one of the most globalized of industries, where State regulatory capacities are said to be challenged. This dissertation focuses on provisions in the MLC for seafarers’ representative participation, and the role of such provisions in the regulatory regime for health and safety management on board ships. Studies from other industries, show representative participation in health and safety to be beneficial in improving working conditions providing certain preconditions exist. These are, firm regulations supported by a strong regulatory steer, senior management commitment and organized labour. Using primarily documents and semi-structured interviews at the international level where such standards are developed, through to where they are operationalized and on to the level of the workplace where they are implemented, this study traces the thinking and practices driving these provisions for representative participation on ships, and their potential for positively impacting seafarers’ working conditions. The findings of the study show that representative participation was included in the MLC based on customary practices, and there was a lack of deliberateness in its development. Equally, there was a lack of strategy for its operationalization, implementation and practice. At the shipboard level, representation emerged as an institution in disarray where the preconditions were not met, and seafarers lacked a full understanding and appreciation of representative participation as a mechanism for their health and safety protection. The study concludes that there is a disconnect between the theory and practice of representation for the seafaring workforce and suggests that an absence of consideration at the stage of developing the MLC, may account for this gap. In these findings, the study highlights the challenges to representative participation owing to the nature, organization and control of work on board and the absence of the preconditions for its support. In doing so, the study points to the limits of the regulatory lead and by extension the ILO’s global regulatory mechanism for addressing health and safety on board ships.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: NIPPON Foundation
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 May 2019
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 02:07

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