Seafarers to boost lobby for maritime safety

MANILA – The International Seafarers’ Action Center (ISAC) Philippines Foundation, Inc. will intensify its educational and legislative lobbying campaign for the ratification and adoption of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) of 2006, as the Congress opens its regular session this July 27.

MLC 2006 is an international maritime labor instrument which consolidates 86 existing Conventions and recommendations. It’s adopted by the ILO in February 2006 during the ILO’s regular session in Geneva, Switzerland.

Maritime labor lawyer and ISAC president Edwin S. de la Cruz said in a statement that the MLC 2006 is instrumental for the protection and advancement of seafarers’ rights and welfare, all over the world.

The ILO says, the MLC aims to achieve worldwide protection for all seafarers, now estimated to be 1.2 million.

The ILO, through the Convention, has clarified the definition of a seafarer as “any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship that is covered by the Convention.”

“Except for a few specific exclusions and areas where flexibility is provided for national authorities to exempt smaller ships (200 gross tonnage and below) that do not go on international voyages from some aspects of the Convention,” says the ILO.

The exclusion includes:

  • Ships which navigate exclusively in inland waters or waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply;
  • Ships engaged in fishing;
  • Ships of traditional build such as dhows and junks; and
  • Warships or naval auxiliaries.

“So, it is not only applicable to those who work in international fleets, but to the domestic seafarers as well,” de la Cruz said.

De la Cruz believes that with the help of Convention, the use of Flags of Convenience (FOCs) and the blacklisting of seafarers, as traditionally used by shipowners, manning agencies and P&I Clubs, can be reduced and later, eliminated.

Last June 1, ISAC officials and coordinators had a dialogue with party-lists Gabriela, Anakpawis and Kabataan, in connection with the lobby work in Congress.

Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglungsod and Kabataan Party Rep. Raymond Palatino said they will review the content of the MLC and will try to put the MLC in the priority list of legislation to be passed before the 14th Congress ends. (Dateline Philippines)