“Seafarers Bill of Rights” - has been called of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) of 2006 as it sets out comprehensive set of rights and responsibilities applying to labour conditions for seafarers serving on the merchant ships globally. FAME in cooperation with David Dearsley and VIDEOTEL conducted a one (1) day seminar on ILO MLC last 20 April 2010 at AMOSUP Convention Hall, AMOSUP Seamen’s Center, Intramuros, Manila as the host venue. As expected, the seminar was well attended by shipowners, manning agents, government officials and all others who were concerned in the working conditions of the seafarers.

As one of the major stakeholders in the International Maritime Industry not only being the major labor supplying state, as a port state and flag stage as well, the Philippines has a lot of responsibilities in terms of compliance in the Convention. The seminar was very timely and significant for the Philippine Manning and Seafaring Industry since once the Convention is in force, all ships which trade internationally must meet its requirements and will be subjected to inspection whether or not their flag states have ratified it or not.

The Convention shall come into force twelve (12) months after the date on which there have been registered ratifications by at least thirty (30) member-countries with a total share in the world gross tonnage of thirty (33) percent. Thereafter, this convention shall come into force for any member twelve (12) months after date on which its ratification has been registered. The Philippines aimed to be part of the first thirty (30) countries to be ratified by the Convention.

Invited resource speakers from the different sectors imparted their knowledge and insights to guide participants through the steps they must take to ensure compliance, understand the context in which the regulations have been established, to know the content of the MLC and understand the responsibilities of the owners, managers, manning agents, seafarers and government officials under the MLC. Resource speakers from various government agencies gave updates on their respective agency’s participations, plans and programs in compliance to MLC.

Mr. David Dearsley- Head of Strategic Review and Development Project, International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare/Director, DM Consulting and former Secretary General of the International Maritime Employers’ Committee (IMEC) presented the background of the MLC 2006. Mr. Dearsley’s presentations mainly focused on the MLC structure and content, its key concepts and responsibilities of government agencies, shipowners, manning agents and seafarers. He also presented tools to help compliance in MLC such as class societies, publications, CBT/software and others.

The participants were also given chance to ask questions and clarifications to Mr. Dearsley of which he carefully answered on international perspectives.

Dir. Liberty T. Casco- Director II, Marketing Branch of POEA presented gaps and issues relative to MLC provisions as they relate to Philippine laws and policies on maritime labor. There are proposed modes of adjusting such laws and policies and a presentation of foreseen difficulties in adjustment.

Dir. Arhleen Romero- Director, Domestic Shipping Office of MARINA presented the agency’s plans and issues need to be addressed to implement the MLC 2006. She specifically pointed out the plans of MARINA in domestic shipping industry in the country.

LCDR Rommel A. Supangan of PCG explained the PCG perspective on the implementation of the MLC 2006 and how to fulfill Philippines’ duties and responsibilities as Port State. He also highlighted some inspections issues.

After hearing the plans and programs of the various government agencies the participants were again given chance to ask questions and make clarifications with the representatives from the government concerning compliance of Philippines in the MLC. In accord the Philippine Government is all set to abreast the compliance on MLC.

Ms. Diane Lynn C. Respall- Senior Program Assistant, International Labour Organization Sub-regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific also gave her meaningful message for the industry and government. Ms. Respall’s message focused on the benefit of the Philippines on being one of the first thirty (30) countries that has been ratified by the MLC on which the countries will be given a longer timeline in submission of first report. With such benefit, our country will have an ample time to smoothen the implementation plan in accordance to MLC compliance.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) works in parallel with key partners in the domestic shipping to help Philippines smooth out the implementation of MLC in the country wide program and will support the tripartite consultation.

Having a unique role in the Maritime and Seafaring Industry in the world, the Philippines work hand in hand with local and international private sectors for possible measures to address the gaps.

The Association then being true to its commitment of working together with industry for excellence will never cease to take on with this kind of endeavor to lead the Industry to the best it can be.