Fishermen working in commercial fishing vessels can now be more safe and secure in their working conditions, and enjoy employment rights and other social benefits, thus decent working standards and equally decent living, including their families.

 

This was announced yesterday by Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz after she issued Department Order No. 156-16 Series of 2016 which provides the rules and regulations governing the working and living conditions of fishers on board fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations. The order will take effect on 1 July 2016.

 

“This is a boon to our fishers in the commercial fishing industry since the order sets employment standards, such as minimum wage, holiday and premium pay, additional premium pay, overtime pay, night shift differential pay, paid service incentive leave, and 13th month pay,” Baldoz said.

 

D.O. 156-16 applies to fishing vessel owners, fishers, and captains or masters on board Philippine-registered fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operation in Philippine or international waters.

 

Fishers covered by the new order are also entitled to paid maternity, paternity, parental, and solo parents leave, including paid leave of 10 of days if they are victims of violence pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262; paid leave for women who undergo surgery caused by gynaecological disorders; and retirement pay upon reaching the age of sixty (60) pursuant to Republic Act No. 7641.

 

“The engagement of Filipino fishers must be bound by an employment agreement in a language or dialect understandable the workers, and delineating the living and working conditions on-board commercial fishing vessels.  It must also contain the basic information of the worker, including the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig identification numbers,” Baldoz said.

 

The compensation structure, composed of wage, mandatory wage-related benefits, and productivity/performance-based pay; as well as the hours of work; leave benefits; health and social security benefits; separation and retirement pay; as well as other benefits provided under existing laws, are mandated to be stipulated in the employment agreement.

 

D.O. 156-16 also sets a minimum age of 18 for a fisherman to be qualified to work on-board commercial fishing vessels.  Additionally, no fisher shall work on board a fishing vessel without a valid medical certificate issued by a public health facility or any medical facility duly accredited by the DOH   Fishers must also be provided with adequate specific instructions and applicable basic safety and health training.

 

They shall be entitled to a break/time-off of not less than 60 minutes for their regular meals, an aggregate daily rest period of 10 hours per day, and to a rest period of not less than 24 consecutive hours after every six consecutive work days.

 

The compensation scheme for the fishing industry shall be consistent with the two-tiered wage policy that ensures minimum wage, mandatory wage-related benefits to fishers and encourages the voluntary adoption and implementation of productivity and/or performance-based pay.

 

During the first year of implementation of the order, the National Wages and Productivity Commission and the Institute for Labor Studies will conduct a study to determine the appropriate compensation scheme for small-scale fishing operation. The recommended compensation scheme shall be implemented at the start of the third year of the effectivity of the order.

 

On the other hand, fishing vessel owners of medium-scale commercial fishing operation shall ensure that fishers engaged in their operation shall receive applicable daily rate.

 

For owners of fishing vessels engaged in large-scale commercial fishing operation, they must pay the fishers of daily minimum wage for the non-agricultural sector prescribed by the appropriate Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board having jurisdiction over the fishing vessel’s port of registration and wage-related benefits and productivity or performance-based pay.

 

The compensation scheme for masters or captains and fishers in medium and large-scale commercial fishing operations shall be composed of minimum wage and wage-related benefits and productivity or performance-based pay.

 

Compliance to mandatory occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) must be strictly observed by commercial fishing vessels to promote health and safety, protect workers from and prevent accidents, injuries, diseases, or deaths.

 

It is mandatory for small-scale, medium-scale and large-scale commercial fishing operation to formulate, implement, and promote occupational safety and health policies and programs consistent with the provisions of the OSHS, including the forming of safety and health committee, and training and orientation on OSH.

 

D.O. 156-16 does not cover fishers on board commercial fishing vessels with foreign registry, which shall be governed by applicable rules and regulations of the POEA; those engaged in municipal fishing, which shall be governed by existing labor, fishery, maritime, and local government laws, rules and regulations; and those on board fishing vessels engaged in subsistence or recreational fishing.

 

END/GSR

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