September 18, 2014

Bantay OCW: Permanent Employment for Seafarers

It was indeed a global milestone when the Philippines became the 30th member-state of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that ratified the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) of 2006.

According to Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), no less than ILO director-general Juan Somavia and ILO executive director Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry of the International Standards Department received the country’s instrument of ratification of the MLC 2006.

The MLC 2006 is an international bill of rights for seafarers consolidating and updating labor standards. It is expected to benefit some 300,000 overseas Filipino seafarers and 60,000 domestic seafarers. Thus, it provides a balance between labor standards and the promotion of productivity.

Once it enters into force 12 months after the date on which there have been registered ratifications by at least 30 member-states, the MLC 2006 will be the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping.

It will complement the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), such as the: International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS); International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978, as amended (STCW); and International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 73/78 (MARPOL).

The country’s ratification of MLC 2006 is a huge contribution to finally materialize the dream for Filipino seafarers of OSM Maritime Services, according to its president, Rear Admiral Adonis Donato.

The OSM Maritime Services is pushing for a “permanent employment and extended benefits program” for Filipino sea-based workers. With this program, our seafarers have the opportunity to get a perpetual job especially for those who are loyal and very productive to their respective companies. No more worries of getting a new job contract after the previous one expires.

It includes overwhelming benefits such as continuous allowance for seafarers even they are on vacation, special insurance, pension, retirement pay and other family benefits.

OSM Maritime Services has already submitted this proposal to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Although it is still under review by the POEA, if approved, it will not be a mandatory program for every maritime company. Employers have the option not to implement it but OSM has started doing this commendable effort among their seafarers, because Admiral Donato treats them as regular employees.

Furthermore, OSM Maritime Services puts an initiative to this program because some of their partner principals or foreign ship owners want to have a permanent crew especially seafarers with high-ranking positions.

As part of their long-term employment security advocacy for sea-based workers, OSM has a cadet program wherein they support the education of aspiring seafarers from the very start up to graduation, entitle them to generous benefits, provide them employment and train them to become officers.

This remarkable effort of OSM not only promises a better employment condition for seafarers, but provides a secured future for their families as well. This is a great move that can also be done by other maritime companies and finally be considered by the government.
It will not only maintain the big role of the Philippines as the seafaring capital of the world but it will also strengthen the contributions of our Filipino seafarers in the global economy./WDJ

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