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ISF voices fears over proposed STCW changes

ISF voices fears over proposed STCW changes

Manila: The International Shipping Federation (ISF) has expressed concerns that a "lack of flexibility" in proposed changes to STCW rules concerning seafarers' minimum rest hours, to be discussed here next week by IMO, could have major implications for ship operations.

The ISF is representing maritime employers at the IMO Diplomatic Conference being held to adopt amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

The conference will be seeking to harmonise minimum rest hour requirements contained in Chapter VIII of STCW with the work hour requirements adopted by the ILO (International Labour Organization) as part of the new Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006). However, the two were "developed for very different purposes," points out the ISF, since the IMO regime was adopted "from the safety perspective for watchkeepers", whilst the ILO regime is driven by "social issues" such as overtime.

Whilst ISF acknowledges that IMO must ensure that the rest hours provision of the revised STCW Convention are in accordance with ILO requirements, it urges that "scope for flexibility" remain.

Spoecifically, ISF will be seeking an exemption in STCW concerning the minimum number of rest hours required by ILO - 10 in any 24-hour period or 77 in a week (versus 70 in STCW) - and wants merely a weekly ceiling imposed. If not, barring emergencies seafarers would be prohibited from working more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period, which it says could be highly detrimental to sectors such as shortsea shipping.  [18/06/10]