Maritime Stakeholders Prefers Voluntary Arbitration

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) disclosed that maritime industry stakeholders have affirmed their preference for voluntary arbitration as a better mode of dispute resolution following the signing of an agreement covering issues and concerns affecting the shipping sector.

In a social dialogue conducted by DOLE with the Philippine Association of Voluntary Arbitrators, Tripartite Voluntary Arbitrators Advisory Council, Accredited Voluntary Arbitrators, Joint Manning Group and maritime labor unions, Labor Undersecretary for Labor Relations and National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo Cacdac said discussions on important concerns of the maritime sector have led to this and other agreements, including the conduct by the National Labor Relations Commission of an orientation on the 2011 NLRC Rules and procedures to maritime stakeholders.

The government continues to conduct social dialogue with partners in drawing up support to reforms in labor governance, particularly, in labor arbitration and adjudication systems.


ITF Launches New Scheme to Aid Seafarers Victimized by Piracy 

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) and TK Foundation have recently launched a new programme to help seafarers and families cope with the physical and mental trauma caused by torture and abuse at the hands of pirates.

The New Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), is funded by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust charity and TK Foundation and is chaired by Mr. Peter Swift, formerly managing director of shipping industry INTERTANKO.

The programme speaks for an alliance of shipowners, trade unions, managers, manning agents, insurers and welfare associations representing the entire shipping industry. It aims to help seafarers who have been or may be subject to pirate attack. Somali-based pirates now regularly treat hostage seafarers with extreme violencein order to put presssure on their families and/or emploers to expedite their ransom demands. This includes phoning family members and making the seafarer please for his life while he is abused and threatened with death, and filming this and posting it online for relatives to see.

Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and MPHRP programme manager, said “Until now, there has been little coordinated help for those who are suffering. Now that will change. With the help of those in the industry who want do do their best for those involved, we intend to build up a network of first respondents and get psychosocial help for affected crews.”


Hiring Preference for Filipino Seafarers stems from their English Proficiency

The Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) president Vice-Admiral Eduardo Ma. Santos said that more and more foreign ship operators are opting to hire all Filipino crews due to latter’s superior English speaking and writing skills.

Vadm. Santos added that is because shipowners are more at ease at having crewmen they can communicate directly without going to an interpreter. “English is the language at sea and our seafarers did well in mastering this skill,” he added.

Aside from their English proficiency, Filipino seafarers are well liked among the world’s merchant fleet due to their excellent seamanship and navigation skills.

Santos said that this preference was made more apparent when the POEA announced that the number of Filipino seafarers will hit the 400,000 mark or 20,000 more than the 380,000 presently in record.

As this develops, the MAAP chief also said leadership traits should be inculcated into our sailor trainees as soon as they step inside the maritime training center or academy.

The MAAP president further narrated that leadership “is not merely shouting orders at subordinates but also the willingness to do the task yourself and show your men how it is properly done.”


Communicating with Seafarers

The ITF has published research findings on seafarers’ communication habits and preferences. The research, commissioned by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, surveyed 1,000 seafarers and reveals how they use modern communication technology-from websites and email to SMS and social networking. For trade unions and other organizations that work with seafarers, this information may be useful in finding new ways to engage and communicate with seafarers. It will also be of interest to welfare agencies seeking to provide communications services to seafarers.

According to the survey, seafarers want more contact with their unions. Shore leave and at home leave offer the best communication opportunities. Computer access onboard is still limited for most.