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Labor chief Bello pushes more protection for seafarers
4:32 pm on 19 September 2021, Sunday
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is calling for the amendment to a 15-year-old maritime convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to provide global seafarers greater protection while in the high seas.
In a virtual address, before maritime and seafaring industry leaders and advocates gathered in London last week, Bello said the existing ILO statute is ambiguous in providing fair treatment and protection to seafarers.
“(The Convention) only encourages the member-states to cooperate to facilitate the investigation of serious marine casualties. We need to act to correct such ambiguities in the code,” Bello said.
“We strongly recommend the amendment of the Maritime Labour Convention to recognize seafarers as key workers,” he added.
The Labor chief served as the keynote speaker at the International Meeting on Future-Proofing of the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, also known as the seafarers’ bill of rights, organized by the International Maritime Organization based in the United Kingdom.
In his address, Bello said the pandemic has affected the global work landscape, including maritime labor. “Hence, we must chart strategic and appropriate measures to continuously protect our seafarers in dealing with fresh opportunities as the world faces a new normal.”
He said that as a country that deploys thousands of seafarers each year, the fair treatment of sea-based workers is among the strongest advocacies of the Philippines, adding much has been done by the country to secure Filipino seafarers before and during the pandemic.
“We also crafted and set into force the Guidelines for the Establishment of the Philippine Green Lane to Facilitate the Speedy and Safe Travel of Seafarers, including their Safe and Swift Disembarkation and Crew Change during the Covid-19 Pandemic,” he said.
An Interim Guidelines for the Facilitated Deployment and Repatriation of Filipino Seafarers during the National State of Emergency brought about by COVID-19 Pandemic was also instituted, Bello said.
“We fully recognize our seafarers as essential workers who play a vital role in the economy which is why they are among the priority recipients in the government’s national Covid vaccination rollout,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bello assured the convention of the Philippines’ unwavering commitment to supporting the international seafaring and shipping community through the supply of highly sought, globally competitive, skilled, and reliable seafarers.