Last 29 September 2006, the 3rd Alfred J. Ganapin forum dubbed as “The 2006 ILO Consolidated Labour Convention” Implementing the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers was held at Park Lane Hotel, Cebu.
The said forum was organized by the Philippine Seafarers Assistance Programme (PASAP) based in Rotterdam, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Cordaid Misereor Filipino Seafarers Family Caregivers Association, a Cebu-based organization of seafarers and their families.
Below, the background paper provided by CMAP Executive Director Ms. Ellene Sana prior to the said convention:
The Convention is conceived to become the “fourth pillar” of the international maritime regulatory regime, together with the three key IMO Conventions: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
In historic move to regulate labour and industrial relations in the maritime sector, the International Labour Conference adopted the Maritime Labour Convention on 23 February 2006, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Seafarers”. This is the very first international agreement of its kind, not only consolidating and updating all relevant ILO Conventions and Recommendations, but also addressing the challenges and predicaments brought about by the globalization of the shipping industry. It is a precedent-setting instrument because, according to ILO Director General Juan Somavia, the Convention marks “a new departure in the pursuit of a fair globalization by making the rules of the game fair for everybody. At the same time, the market should have the necessary space to perform its key functions for the economy and for society. In the search for solutions it has become more and more evident that there can be no lasting success with purely national solutions to global problems.”
The Convention sets out minimum requirements and a wide range of rights to decent work for seafarers and contains provisions on conditions of employment, recruitment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.
Among the novel features of the Convention are its form and structure, embodying both legally binding standards as well as directives given as guidelines. Its amendment procedures are rapid and, most importantly, it sets out a system for the certification of seafarers’ labour conditions.
The Philippines, as the country supplying the biggest number of international seafarers, will be heavily affected by the new ILO Convention, in terms of policies and priorities impacting on sea-based OFWs. More importantly, Filipino seafarers, which make up the biggest nationality group in the global maritime workforce, hold tremendous stakes in the meaningful realization and implementation of the Convention.
The Cebu Forum will be the very first opportunity in the Philippines (and so far, in the whole world) to publicly deliberate on the Maritime Labour Convention: its coverage and contents, its implications, and its consequences to a full range of national stakeholders-seafarers and their families, government agencies, the private sector (principally shipping companies and crewing agencies), maritime training and education institutions, international bodies, and non-governmental/civil society organizations.
Thus, the Forum will give attention to the responsibilities of, and challenges to, the Philippines government-or the government’s basic policy on the ratification and early implementation of this novel international agreement. Under the Convention, primordial expectations are given to a “labour supply State” – a new actor in international maritime law.