Philippines ratifies int'l seafarers' bill of rights

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Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines has officially become the 30th member-state of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) of 2006, dubbed the international seafarers' bill of rights.

Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia has already received the Philippines' instrument of ratification, which finally gives the international body the minimum number of ratifications needed to set the new maritime standards in motion.

The provisions of the Convention state that it will come into force 12 months after it is ratified by at least 30 member-states with a total share in the world gross tonnage of ships of 33 per cent.

"Director General Somavia expressed his sincere thanks to the government of the Philippines for this ratification," Baldoz added.

Seafarers' rights

Prior to last week's Senate ratification of the MLC, 29 ILO member-states (representing 58.5 per cent of the world's gross tonnage of ships) had deposited their instruments of ratification with the ILO director general.

The ILO said MLC 2006 provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers. It consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards related to the maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years.

Around 300,000 overseas Filipino seafarers and 60,000 domestic seafarers stand to benefit from the MLC 2006, according to Baldoz.

With the Philippine ratification of the MLC 2006, the DOLE will immediately call stakeholders to a series of meetings to finalise regulations and propose legislation to fulfill the promise of seafarer protection and competitiveness, Baldoz said.

Fourth pillar

Baldoz said that once it enters into force, the MLC 2006 will be the "fourth pillar" of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping. The other key Conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974, as amended (SOLAS); International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of 1978, as amended (STCW); and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

"Our country's ratification of MLC 2006 highlights over a decade of involvement of the Philippine government, through the Department of Labour and Employment, in global maritime affairs that contributed to the adoption of the Convention in 2006. Thereafter, we pursued tripartite efforts through the DOLE-led Maritime Industry and Tripartite Council to address compliances and issues in Philippine maritime labor law and policy," said Baldoz.

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