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The Merchant Shipping Act

The Merchant Shipping Act 57 of 1951 (MSA) says that the Labour Relations Act and the Wage Act apply to all employees at sea. It says that if there is conflict between the provisions of the MSA and the provisions of a Bargaining Council Agreement or Wage Determination, the provisions of the Agreement or Determination will apply.

The MSA covers employees who are at sea within South Africa’s territorial waters. If employees at sea are outside the territorial waters of South Africa, then an Agreement or Determination will apply to employees who:

  • Are employed on a ship which is registered in South Africa
  • Even if the ship is not registered in South Africa, are employed on a ship which spends all its time working between ports in South Africa.
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