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Shipping launches advisory body to tackle Filipino seafarer issues

Shipping launches advisory body to tackle Filipino seafarer issues
Adis Ajdin January 17, 2023

Global organisations representing seafarers, shipowners and other maritime employers have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers to form the International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA) aimed at finding solutions facing Filipino seafarers.

The formation of the IACGMA follows a meeting that took place in December last year, where shipping industry leaders met with the Philippines’ president Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr, to discuss maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers, including those raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

The Philippines is the world’s largest source of seafarers, with an estimated 14% of the global workforce deployed on domestic or foreign-flagged vessels. EMSA, which monitors training facilities on behalf of EU member states, has been citing deficiencies in the Filipino seafarers’ training protocols for many years, which could ultimately prohibit them from working on EU-flagged vessels or leave them jobless.

The key goals of the newly formed committee include contributing to the provision of appropriate training to the country’s seafarers in compliance with the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention. The IACGMA will also work to address concerns regarding ambulance chasing and unfair labour practices, and on issues related to the employability of Filipino seafarers overseas.

“The Philippine government through its Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) welcomes the participation of well-respected industry associations and leaders from the global shipping industry in developing our roadmap to a just transition as well as boosting the global competitiveness of Filipino seafarers across the globe,” Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said during the signing ceremony.

Other relevant government agencies in the Philippines, such as the Department of Transportation and its attached agency, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) have expressed support for the newly-formed advisory body.

The IACGMA includes the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Sotiris Raptis, secretary general of ECSA, said: “ECSA welcomes the establishment of the IACGMA and is honoured to bring its expertise to this initiative. Filipino seafarers play a crucial role in EU shipping and in keeping European trade moving. By engaging in the International Advisory Committee together with our industry partners, ECSA strives to be a strategic partner to the Philippines and facilitate a productive dialogue with the EU institutions on matters of key importance such as seafarers’ qualifications, training, and certification.”