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Seminars steer seafarers to calmer waters

Making a life on the ocean wave less hazardous

Seminars steer seafarers to calmer waters
Seafarers attend a seminar on ILO-MLC (photo by ISAC Phils Foundation Inc.)
Julian Labores, Manila

September 15, 2011

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A seafarers’ group has set out on a series of seminars in the southern Philippines to drum up awareness  and garner support for the quick ratification of the International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention. The International Seafarers Action Center (ISAC) is one of several groups that has been campaigning for the convention to be ratified by congress since 2008. Its project coordinator, Cristina Clemente-Tiozon, said the seminars “should increase the awareness of seafarers and would-be seafarers about the importance of the convention in their lives as workers and as people.” The convention, the latest in a recent series of international initiatives to improve work conditions, consolidates 68 labor standards and good practices adopted by different countries over the last 80 years. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has hailed it as “the fourth pillar of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping.” It sets out the seafarer’s right to a decent work environment and aims to be globally applicable, easily understandable, easy to update and uniformly enforced. The group’s early seminars took place recently in Davao City, attended by student delegates from the Holy Cross Of Davao College, MATS College of Technology and Agro-Industrial Foundation College of the Philippines-Davao. ISAC president Edwin de la Cruz, United Federation of Danish Workers’ representative Birthe Jensen, ISAC project development chief Jeremy Cajiuat and Clemente-Tiozon addressed about 500 students at each school. Cajuiat described the work conditions of 300,000 Filipino employees on 50,000 commercial vessels around the world. De la Cruz discussed the content and importance of the convention, while Jensen tackled the importance of a union in improving the lives of workers. Clemente-Tiozon said they are about to bring the seminars to other colleges around the Philippines to create a “sea of supporters” for ratification. About 1.25 million seafarers rely on the sea for a living, according to estimates of the Church’s Apostleship of the Sea. More than half of them come from Asia and the Middle East.
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