Tripartite partners push decent work for seafarers manning domestic shipping

An October 17, 2011 press release from the Department of Labor and Employment

An estimated 40,000 domestic Filipino seafarers employed or engaged onboard Philippine registered ships navigating exclusively within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines are expected to be the main beneficiaries in an ongoing effort to ensure decent work and labor standards in the local maritime industry, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz said yesterday.

Baldoz said this as she announced the conduct of the fourth plenary Maritime Industry Tripartite Council (MITC) meeting expected to secure the necessary steps to ensure the proper decent work standards for all local maritime workers on board local vessels, at the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) Convention Hall in Intramuros, Manila on October 17, 2011.

Baldoz said that as decided by the tripartite body constituted by the labor, management and government partners of the country’s maritime industry, the meeting has included in its agenda the approval of two MITC resolutions that would endorse

(a) the issuance of an appropriate DOLE Department Order (DO) for the rules and regulations governing the employment and working conditions of domestic seafarers; and

(b) the Philippines’s ratification of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Maritime Labor Convention 2006.

The labor and employment chief emphasized that all these efforts are consistent with the 22-point labor and employment agenda of President Benigno S. Aquino III, which enunciates the overarching goal to “invest in our country’s top resource, our human resource, to make us more competitive and employable while promoting industrial peace based on social justice,” and strengthen the welfare and protection of all Filipino workers including the country’s seafarers.

The MITC’s plenary meeting would be a full-force event to be attended by the social partners of the Philippines’ maritime industry, alongside both local and international stakeholders, and other observers.

During the MITC plenary, ILO International Labour Standards Department (NORMES) director Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry from the International Labour Office-Geneva would discuss an overview and updates on the MLC 2006 before the country’s maritime social partners.

Also to deliver their messages in the conference are AMOSUP President Conrado F. Oca; Philippine Seafarers Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines President Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza; Philippine Interisland Shipping Chairman and President Carlo N. Leonio; and Joint Manning Group Chairman Eduardo U. Manese.

Baldoz, speaking earlier during the Forum-Consultation on the MLC 2006 for the Philippines’s domestic shipping sector in August, emphasized that for the Philippines, the work towards ratifying the MLC “affirms the country’s standing as the manning capital of the world with its 250,000 overseas Filipino seafarers, who comprise 25 – 30 percent of global shipping fleet’s manning complement, and are thus the driving force behind the ships that handle the world’s trade.”

Stressing that the overseas Filipino seafarers are covered by the primary conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) namely the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the ratification of the “fourth pillar” that is the MLC 2006 would provide the necessary foundations for decent work benefiting the employment, welfare, and protection of the estimated 40,000 seafarers who are not abroad but are manning our numerous inter-island ships.

Globally, the ILO said “the MLC 2006 provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers.” Thus, the ILO said “the Convention aims to achieve both decent work for seafarers, and secure economic interests in fair competition for quality shipowners.” Noting that in the 21st century, “an estimated 90% of world trade is carried on ships and seafarers are in this sense essential to international trade and the international economic and trade system,” the ILO emphasized that the new labor standard had thus update and consolidated than 68 international labor standards related to the maritime sector over the last 80 years.