The IMO has made great progress with the review of the current edition of the STCW convention (Standards of training, certification and watchkeeping). A few items remain to be solved before the diplomat conference the week before midsummer, when the new version will be officially adopted.
The revision will make it easier and clearer to interpret the contents, introduce new items, remove outdated requirements and prevent lowering the requirements for qualifications and education. The first ambitions have been followed reasonably well, but some countries have taken the opportunity to try to water down some regulations.
Here at SAN (unions and shipping companies) we are represented in different international trade organisations which safeguard their own interests. We are able to put forward our viewpoints, but we do not have the strength and voting power which each country has. There are 169 countries and the number of trade organisations which are involved in IMO work (International maritime organization).
Crew competence requirements
One new part of this revision is that the crew will have their own competence requirements, and that at least two qualifications for electro-technical competence will be introduced: one at the crew level and one at the officer level.
The largest problems that remain to be solved are working hours, resting hours and medical certificates. Consideration must be taken in this respect to the new ILO convention (MLC, maritime labour convention) so that the two sets of rules do not conflict with each other. Many countries want flexible solutions and exceptions from the basic rules of resting time, which are opposed by all employee representatives and certain other parties. Discussions will continue on the final text until it is established in June.
As regards medical certificates, the objective is a standard which will apply over the whole world, but in this area too there are many divergent opinions. STCW does not really treat the subjects of manning and the work environment, but many issues are controlled by the convention and our viewpoints are important. It sometimes feels like an uphill struggle working against interests that desire neither improvements nor changes. Strange as it may seem, there are examples of such within the EU, both in terms of countries and trade organisations.
There must be more development before the EU is able to proudly stand up and be counted among those approved, if not yet the best in the class.