Two seafarer advocacy groups vowed to keep campaigning for the ratification of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) of 2006 to ensure the safety of more than 250,000 Filipino seafarers worldwide.
The International Seafarer Action Center Philippines Foundation (ISAC) and Philippine Mariners and Seafarers’ Association said the MLC has to be ratified immediately to stop abuses and unfair labor practices.
ISAC’s Edwin dela Cruz said unfair labor practices happen aboard different ships, especially those under the flag of convenience (FOC) vessels, according to an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site over the weekend.
Philippine Mariners and Seafarers’ Association head Joseph Entero said there had been a “decrease” in the salaries of seafarers in the past few years but that it was unnoticed by the Philippine government.
“Even the additional compensation for the Filipino seamen passing at the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, has never been given by the ship-owners and manning agencies, despite the fact that there is an outstanding resolution from the Philippine labor office and as it is also stipulated in the employment contract,” Entero said.
“There was an incident that we have had to file a case against a shipping company, just to give the additional compensation,” he added.
Entero was referring to the additional salary for seafarers working in the “pirate zone” in the African continent, particularly near Somalia.
Both dela Cruz and Entero said the MLC would at least compel labor-exporting countries and ocean-going vessels’ countries of origin to comply with the international labor and safety standards.
“The lawyers hope that this time, the government will have its stand on the issue, particularly its Labor Department and other concerned agency as Filipino seafarers contribute fairly well at the country’s dollar reserve,” the CBCP said.
Last year, the CBCP said seafarers’ remittances rose to 11.3 percent, from $2.211 billion in 2009, to $2.461 billion last year. – VVP, GMA News