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Brazil Ratifies the ILO Maritime Labour Convention

By Gabriel Gomes and Rodrigo Mattos

On April 12, 2021, Brazil incorporated into its law International Labor Office – ILO Convention 186, more commonly known as the Maritime Labor Convention – MLC1, and thus became one of the signatory countries of the document, which establishes labour-related rights and conditions in various areas of the sector in addition to consolidating international norms and up-to-date recommendations relative to onboard employment.

Drafted from the 2006 ILO General Conference, the MLC has its principal purpose making possible that maritime employees, independent of nationality, have the terms and conditions of their employment relationship regulated by a single norm, they are being granted a series of rights1 relative to their performing their activities anywhere in the World.

In Brazil, due to the fact that MLC had not been ratified, the topic of the rights of maritime employees has been controversial, in that the international laws and collective bargaining agreements were often not considered despite crew members of all nationalities living together onboard. With the ratification, pacification of the theme is anticipated, privileging the application of the norm of International Law2 so that all crewmembers, independent of nationality, are subject to the same legal rules.

The uncertainties had brought considerable juridical insecurity relative to contracting in the sector, particularly for cruise ship companies, which importance with respect to tourism and employment creation is undeniable. In 2019/20, said companies were responsible for injecting BRL 2.2 billion into the Brazilian economy and generating 33 thousand new direct and indirect employment positions, according to a Cruise Lines International Association – CLIA Brazil/Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) study3.

For this reason, the ratification of the Maritime Labor Convention is, doubtlessly, much celebrated by the cruise ship sector. It is viewed as an instrument of pacification of juridical instability and proportioning significant positive impact on the tourism of important Brazilian coast destinations, this scenario certainly contributes to the incrementation of the National economy with the return of cruise ships to the Country.

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1 Such as with respect to minimum age, work and rest hours, food and catering, employee health and safety protection, including with respect to accidents, and other provisions.
2 The Law of the Flag – the Bustamante Code – ratified in Brazil by Decree 18.871/1928.
3 <Link> Accessed on: April 16, 2021.