emoticon_smirkPraises for ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 reach a crescendo today, when the so-called ‘bill of rights’ for seafarers takes full effect. One of our readers, however, isn’t joining the global chorus. He goes by the name of ‘leon somar’ and is a Filipino seaman (a ship officer, we surmise). The man had a mouthful to say in response to our 19th July post, No new dawn with MLC 2006: 3 reasons. He sent in two more comments, which we are reproducing here.

On undermanned ships and unscrupulous shipowners:

Ships owners always have a way to cheat the system. To mention one, the working hours. Everybody knows that on container vessels most seafarers don’t have much rest but nobody cares. They keep reducing crew on most ships and nobody is trying to stop them. The food allowance is also being lowered and once you complain you are no longer rehired. Overtime pay – again owner instructs the master not to pay their overtime and again once you complain you are no longer rehired.

We really need extra manpower on board, from galley to deck and engine department. But people out there don’t care. They are only counting the money they have earned. Safety is really at risk.

On a common malpractice by manning agencies:

Almost all manning agencies in Manila force seafarers to surrender all their documents upon arrival in Manila to prevent their applying with other manning agencies or else their leave pay is compromised. This is a violation of the seafarer’s right to choose which company to apply at. Normally, seafarers stay with one company for the following reasons: the wages are good; early remittance of wages; short contract; early remittance of special allotments in case of emergency; food on board is not manipulated by the master; and no discrimination of Filipino officers on board.

The loudest voices on MLC 2006 have come from shipowners, crewing agents, union officials and seafarers’ welfare groups. Are we listening to the individual seafarer? ~Barista Uno

Feel free to comment on this article. You may also like to read:

Tough tweets on seafarers’ ‘bill of rights’

2013 reprise on ‘the human element’

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