Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that thousands of Jamaican hospitality workers will benefit from the protection of an amendment to the Shipping Act, which is expected to be passed in the House of Representatives today.
The Bill, titled ‘An Act to Amend the Shipping Act’ or the ‘Shipping (Amendment) Act 2020’, was tabled by Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague in the House of Representatives last week Tuesday.
According to Bartlett, it was a timely endorsement of the rights of Jamaican seafarers, mainly those working as hospitality staff on cruise vessels.
“I can’t give an exact figure, but I know that there are thousands of Jamaicans working on cruise ships that are going to benefit. Just last week one [cruise] company told me they could take on 10,000 Jamaicans right now, if we were able to pass the Bill.
“Just think of the thousands of seafarers we had to bring back home earlier in the COVID crisis; there were many engineers and hospitality workers. The passage of the Bill, and certain other consequential amendments the Ministry of Labour is working on, is a huge benefit for what we call seafarers and hospitality workers, in general,” he said.
The Bill is aimed at amending the Act to make more complete provisions for the living and working conditions, as well as the rights of seafarers in line with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.
According to Montague, the amendments will ensure that Jamaica is able to meet its obligation under the convention, as the Bill will give effect to that decision.
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, which was adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization, defines “seafarers” as any person engaged by or on behalf of the owner of a ship, to perform any work on board a ship. These tasks include manning the operations, shopkeeping, providing entertainment or food services, bartending, cosmetology, or any form of hospitality.
However, it excludes any person engaged solely to perform a task that is not part of the routine operations of the vessel, or part of the services or amenities offered on board the ship.
The owner of the vessel is required to ensure that a copy of the declaration of maritime labour compliance, and the maritime labour certificate, in respect of the ship, are posted conspicuously aboard the vessel and a copy made available upon request by any seafarer.