Global leaders from organisations representing seafarers, shipowners and other maritime employers this week met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, as part of his foreign policy tour in Brussels (pictured). Top of the agenda was the immediate concern of employers and crew that as many as 50,000 seafarers faced being barred from crewing European Union-flagged vessels over qualification issues, reports a joint statement by IMEC (International Maritime Employers’ Council and ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation).
The EU threat is due to a warning from the bloc’s maritime regulator that the Philippines needed to address unacceptable deficiencies in crew’s education, training and certification. Failure to do so would push out Filipino seafarers, a labour source so critical that one delegate described as ‘too big to fail’.
President Marcos said he had ordered creation of a new advisory board, to be made up of employers, shipowners and unions and the ILO, to give expert advice on major maritime issues. This International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA) would draw on experts from both industry and the workforce to support the Philippines’ government, with IMEC, ICS (the international Chamber of Shipping), ITF and the ILO (International Labour Organization) all invited to share their expertise.
Delegates were reassured to hear Marcos pledge that his administration will do “everything” to address these deficiencies identified by the European Commission’s Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) “to prevent job losses among Filipino seafarers,” he said.
Reform was also promised of the country’s seafarer claims industry where ‘ambulance-chasing’ lawyers target seafarers in order to defraud employers, reported the IMEC/ITF joint statement.
The industry delegation meeting with President Marcos Jr included representatives of the ICS, IMEC, ITF, ECSA (European Shipowners’ Associations), Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association and ICS Hong Kong.
Further background on the seafarer training situation in the Philippines can be found in the cover story of the latest issue of SMI magazine available on this website.