The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has entered into an agreement with manning agencies and Filipino seamen's organizations to provide for the establishment of a labor arbitration system and the development of voluntary arbitration (VA) as an alternative mode of settling labor disputes in the maritime industry.


Acting Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with representatives of manning agencies' associations and seamen's unions providing for the creation of the Maritime Industry Labor Arbitration Council (MILA). Former DOLE Secretary and newly-appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion also signed the MOA as witness during a simple ceremony at the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen's Union (AMOSUP) Tuesday in Intramuros, Manila.


The signatories from the manning agencies were Rodolfo Estampador of the Conference of Maritime Manning Association, Sammuel Lim of the Filipino Association for Mariners Employment, Jose Albar Kato of the International Maritime Association of the Philippines, Eduardo Manese of the Philippine-Japan Manning Consultative Council, Vicente Miranda of the Philippine Association of Manning Agencies and Ship Managers, Inc., Roy Alampay of the Filipino Ship Owners Association, and Felicito Dalaguete of the Philippine Association of Maritime Institution.


Those from the seamen's unions were Gregorio Oca of the Associated Marine Officers Seamen's Union of the Philippines, Romeo Occena of the International Seamen's Mutual Labor Association, Manuel Collado of the Mariners and Allied Transport Employees Union, German Pascua, Jr., of the Philippine Seamen's Union, and Nelson Ramirez of the United Filipino Seafarers.


Leoncio Sempio of the Marine Engine Officers Association of the Philippines and Jaime Aquino of the Philippine Maritime Voluntary Arbitrators Association also signed the MOA.


Roque said the establishment of the MILA, an initiative of now Justice Brion, would provide for the development of a VA system in the maritime industry while ensuring the rights and welfare of Filipino seafarers and addressing the concerns of stakeholders in the maritime industry. 


The move came at the heel of a growing consensus among maritime industry stakeholders on the need to pursue a dedicated effort to advocate the use of VA as a mode of settling labor disputes in the maritime sector.


The stakeholders also took cognizance of the need to develop expertise in maritime usages and practices in the VA system so as to fully give effect to arbitration clauses provided in the collective bargaining agreements entered into by various seafarer's unions and standard contracts of Filipino seafarers, Roque said.


The Acting Secretary also said the parties agreed to constitute MILA as a tripartite body consisting of Executive Director of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board as Ex-officio Chair and one member each from the manning and seafarer sectors. The council members will have a term of three years from the date of their designation. NCMB will serve as the council's secretariat in the interim.


Aside from promoting VA in the maritime industry, the council and the secretariat will also be tasked to formulate policies, programs, standards, qualifications, and manuals of procedures pertaining to MILA operations. They will also screen, accredit, admit, and train voluntary arbitrators.


Initially, however, the social partners will each submit a list of five nominees to the pool of maritime industry labor arbitrators, Roque said.


Source: DOLE Information and Publication Service