Study on social aspects within the maritime transport sector
Project Duration
January 2019
December 2019
Research Priority Area
Maritime Social and Labour Governance
Project Website

The analysis focuses on issues of EU relevance and covers the 2011 – 2018 period. The methodology deployed followed a mixed method approach. The study collected and analysed as much existing information and data as possible and complemented this with primary data collection. Country case studies were conducted looking at issues of education, attractiveness of the sector, gender equality in
particular Member States. Thematic case studies were used to focus on issues like access to justice in maritime transport in the European Union. The study has also benefited from a large-scale consultation programme to gather views, and experiences directly from key stakeholders in the EU institutions and within the sector or with sectoral expertise. These methods were used to research the following areas in line with the terms of reference:

  1. socioeconomic and technological developments in the maritime transport sector;
  2. potential effects of digitalisation and automation;
  3. social dumping and unfair competition;
  4. control and compliance issues under the EU Directives that enforce the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006;
  5. follow-up of the recommendations of the 2011 Task Force; and
  6. the functioning of the EU sectoral social dialogue on maritime transport.

The findings reveal a series of challenges facing the sector as follows: - shifting economic, technological and cultural dynamics that affect the attractiveness of the seafaring profession; - a socio-legal framework that leads to the non-application of the ‘equal pay for equal work’ principle on board; - difficulties in providing a comprehensive social security protection to seafarers and avoiding double taxation; - different levels of control and enforcement of the provisions of the MLC in different countries, 2006; - a need to enhance seafarers’ access to justice and awareness of their rights, obligations and complaint handling procedures; - a commitment of social partners to the social dialogue process, but divergent views of what can be achieved, as well as divergences in terms of influences and resources. To help foster change, the study made recommendations relating to education, employment, gender and diversity matters, seafarers’ access to justice, collective bargaining, social security, compliance and enforcement of existing legislation, and policy mechanisms, among others. As such, while examining policy achievements, gaps and shortcomings, it has identified initiatives which may enhance decent working and living conditions on board ships and increase the attractiveness of the seafarer profession.

The Report and Executive Summary published  by the European Commission can be found here:

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Principal Investigator
Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs
Vice-President (Academic Affairs) and Professor
Co-principal investigator
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Project Officer
Khanssa Lagdami
ITF Seafarers' Trust Assistant Professor of Maritime Labour Law & Policy