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PACIFIC BEAT ABC RADIO Updated November 1, 2010 17:43:41
Fiji has called on other Pacific countries to fast track the ratification of a new Maritime Labour Convention.
Supporters of the convention say it will improve working conditions and safety.
They say had it come into effect earlier, it could have even helped prevent the tragic Princess Ashika disaster in Tonga.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speakers: Mark Davis, from the International Transport Workers Federation; ILO's Director of International Labour Standards, Cleopatra Henry; Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Labour, Taito Waqa
GARRETT: The Pacific punches above its weight in the maritime world and so the new Maritime Labour Convention prepared by the International Labour Organisation is particularly relevant - not just to countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu that have large numbers of their men serving overseas as seafarers but to any country with domestic or international shipping.
The ILO's Director of International Labour Standards, Cleopatra Henry, says the Maritime Labour Convention will create a Bill of Rights for seafarers and stop ruthless exploitation.
HENRY: What the Maritime Convention does do is help establish more or less of a level playing field, so that seafarers everywhere can expect to find on board ship a minimum living and working conditions and they would expect to be paid correct decent salaries, they would be expected to be able to find accommodation which meets minimum standards, hours of work, hours of rest, all of these things have major contributors to safety at sea.
GARRETT: The Maritime Labour Convention needs to be ratified by 30 countries before it comes into effect.
So far it has ten - including just one Pacific nation - the Marshall Islands.
Fiji is urging other Pacific countries to get on board.