PHL pushes for maritime law change to cover pandemic

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now pushing for the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 to be amended to include provisions that will protect seafarers in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. 19.

Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre H. Bello III said he wants the MLC to be more responsive to the challenges currently facing seafarers around the world so they can deal with the effects of the pandemic.

“We must develop strategic and appropriate measures to continuously protect our seafarers from new opportunities as the world faces a new normal,” Bello said in his address to maritime leaders at the virtual meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently.

Developed in 2006 by maritime stakeholders at the International Labor Conference (ILC) of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the MLC serves as a charter of seafarers’ rights.

Bello noted that currently the MLC, which entered into force in 2013, remains ambiguous in “providing fair treatment and protection to seafarers”.

Bello said: “[The Convention] only encourages Member States to cooperate to facilitate the investigation of serious maritime casualties. We must act to correct these ambiguities in the code.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), he said, could consider the measures adopted by the government during the pandemic to meet the needs of seafarers.

Among these measures is the Philippines Greenway for Seafarers, which facilitates their safe and timely disembarkation and crew change during the pandemic.

The labor chief also cited government guidelines for the repatriation and deployment of seafarers in emergencies, which includes exempting them from travel restrictions and prioritizing them in the deployment of Covid-19 vaccination.

“We fully recognize our seafarers as essential workers who play a vital role in the economy, which is why they are among the priority beneficiaries of the government’s nationwide rollout of Covid vaccination,” Bello said.

The DOLE issued the statement after the country officially took over the chairmanship of the governing body of the ILO last July, which will allow it to influence the agenda of the next ILC.