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PH to host largest seafarers' union summit

PH to host largest seafarers' union summit
Yashika F. Torib June 7, 2023

THE Philippines, considered to be one of the largest providers of seafarers in the world, will host the Seafarer 2050 summit on June 26, 2023 in Manila.

The summit, titled "Shaping the Future of Shipping — Seafarer 2050," aims to highlight the elements required for a successful transformation of seafarers' roles to meet the needs of shipping in the future.

It is jointly organized by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Maritime Employers' Council Ltd. (IMEC) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), considered to be the largest and most powerful unions in the world.

The event is supported by the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (Amosup), the biggest seafarers' union affiliated with ITF.

"We are very excited to be part of the ITF Seafarers' Expo this month. It will be a joyous occasion and a great opportunity to interact with our members and their families," said Conrado Oca, president of Amosup. "Our Seamen's Hospital will have a health check tent, and Amosup will have informative booths to bring some of our services, advocacies, and campaigns to our members attending the event."

IMEC said the summit will be opened by Gilbert Houngbo, director general of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

There will be discussions on education and training, building capacity and resilience, recruitment, and retention of seafarers, and ensuring that any transition is safe, equitable and human-centric.

"Recruitment and retention are critical at the moment as it has been estimated that by 2026 the shipping industry will need an additional 90,000 seafarers to keep trade moving," IMEC said.

The summit will bring together government ministers, regulators, shipowners, employers, unions, industry leaders, and technology and infrastructure providers in one room to discuss the requirements for seafarers in 2050.

It will also consider the risks to shipping and global trade inherent in industry transformation and the investments and changes that will need to be made to ensure that sufficient numbers of skilled seafarers are available to fulfill the requirements of shipping in 2050.

"The upcoming conference in Manila is a key moment in shipping and also for the Philippines as a nation. It is well known that the Philippines is the seafaring capital of the world, and our seafarers are not only integral to the future of the shipping industry but also to our country's economy," Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said.

"We are currently at a crossroads as the industry evolves to a greener and more digital operating environment, with ambitious climate goals to meet by 2050 and new emerging technologies. But one thing is key, and that is that seafarers need to be central in the discussions. I am encouraged to see many industry leaders joining the conference and urge fellow ministers in the region to join in on the conversations. I look forward to discussing the future of our seafarers in June," he added.

"The Covid-19 pandemic shone the light on how vital our seafarer workforce is to modern life. Seafarers are an incredibly valuable asset and we need to ensure that this is recognized at the highest levels. The Seafarer 2050 summit is our opportunity to bring together the shipping industry and determine how we can continue to shape a better future for seafarers and ensure no one gets left behind in the green energy transition," said Guy Platten, secretary general of ICS.

Belal Ahmed, chairman of IMEC, said that seafarers are at the center of shipping and global trade. He added that with the unprecedented challenges brought on by climate change and new technology, the industry must work together to ensure that seafarers are trained, taken care of, and fit for more sustainable shipping.

"The Seafarer 2050 summit will focus not only on the issues we need to work together but also need for a global consensus to support our seafarers," Ahmed said.

"The cooperation we saw during the pandemic-related crew change crisis allowed employers and seafarers' unions to recognize our common challenges and the strength we have when we speak with one clear voice," Stephen Cotton, general secretary of ITF, said.

"We welcome this global partnership being taken to the next level with the inclusion of governments from leading maritime nations such as the Philippines. This event is about looking out to 2050, to set out the practical plans needed for a Just Transition and a future-proof workforce," Cotton added.