Baldoz cites MLC, 2006 accomplishments on domestic seafaring

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has congratulated all DOLE-partners for successfully hurdling one year of observing the highest standards on seafaring through compliance with the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 (MLC, 2006).

The global seafaring treaty, with 61 ILO member-states, including the Philippines, representing more than 80 percent of the world’s global shipping tonnage having ratified it, aims to achieve decent work for seafarers while securing fair competition for shipowners.

“The MLC, 2006 one year since it entered into force on 20 August 2013, has been providing comprehensive welfare and protection at work for foreign and domestic seafarers,” said Baldoz.

The treaty lists regulations and codes which cover minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship.

It provides conditions of employment that shipowners should provide them, such as accommodation, recreational facilities, and food and catering.

Other concerns, such as seafarers’ health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection, are also covered.

On its first-year anniversary, the DOLE being the authority mandated to implement its provisions, thus, outlined the following accomplishments that realize MLC, 2006’s seafaring standards.

Working with the Philippine Country Office of the ILO, the DOLE has led in the promotion of awareness about the MLC, 2006 among domestic shipowners and seafarers.

Secretary Baldoz has also issued Department Order Nos. 129 and 130 Series of 2013, which cover the terms and working conditions of seafarers in Philippine-registered vessels plying international and domestic routes, and D.O. No. 127 covering conciliation-mediation to address on-board complaints.

Before these, Baldoz led in the establishment of a national and regional maritime industry tripartite councils (MITCs) in key homeport areas. “These serve as mechanisms to communicate maritime-related concerns, as well as in the formulation of maritime labor policies,” Baldoz observed.

“The MITCs allow for the continuity of engagement and accountability of domestic shipowners in enforcing MLC, 2006 in the country,” she added.

Baldoz expressed confidence that with all these measures in place, the Philippines will remain to be the top supplier of seafarers in the world.

And in recognition of the DOLE’s leadership in seafaring and ship manning, as well as of its efforts to secure and protect Filipino seafarers, the Philippines was voted as vice-chairman of the ILO’s Special Tripartite Committee which met last 11 April in Geneva.

In that meeting, POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac joined some 400 participants from all over the world. He co-led with Canada in pushing for the adoption of new amendments to the MLC, 2006.

“A maritime milestone,” Secretary Baldoz said of this achievement.

In his presentation of the MLC, 2006’s amendments during the celebration of the first-year anniversary of the treaty’s entry into force, Administrator Cacdac said:

“With this new law, our abandoned seafarers will be better protected.  They and their families will be provided compensation in case of a seafarer’s death or long-term disability.”

He recounted that as of March 2014, ILO’s Abandonment of Seafarers Database lists 159 abandoned merchant ships. Some date back to 2006; many remain unresolved.

Abandoned seafarers are thus left to work and live on board ships without pay for long periods. They even lack food and water supplies, medical care or means to return home.

Cacdac explained that with the new amendments, when seafarers board their ships, certificates or other documents will need to be carried on board to establish that shipowners have ensured that financial security is in place to protect seafarers working on-board.

Failure to provide this protection may mean that a ship can be detained in a port.

“Such international legal measures will further improve working and living conditions of our seafarers, the most globalized of the world’s workers, when the new amendments become effective in 2017, barring any hitches,” Cacdac said.

End/amguevarra

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