The government must address the bottlenecks that are prohibiting Filipino seafarers from going back to ships as firms shift to other nationalities with workers who are relatively easier to onboard, a well-known industry group reportedly said on Wednesday.
Filipinos are more difficult to onboard in the middle of an ongoing pandemic owing to restrictions like high airfares from and to the Philippines.
Tore Henriksen, Chairman – Joint Maritime Committee (JMC) and the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that a lot of the members complain that they feel compelled to change from Filipino crew and opt for other nationalities due to practical reasons.
Not because there is anything wrong with their performance, not to a fault of their own, but due to the situation that is persisting in their country. It should be the responsibility of the authorities to address the issue. Doing so will help avoid losing out on market share.
Currently, 1% of global seafarers or approximately 16,000 individuals are stuck on ships. They are on extended contracts that are a result of the problems associated with getting replacement workers.
This has had ill effects on the mental health of seafarers which have resulted in safety concerns. Those seafarers who are fatigued, battling mental health issues, and are in charge of complicated machinery, and beyond anything, it is a question of decency.
The maritime industry is negatively impacted by the pandemic as ports and borders tighten measures to curb the spread of the virus. Filipinos are well regarded in the global shipping industry. They reportedly contributed about $6.5 billion to the Philippine economy.
Sea-based workers make the top remittance contributors of the nation. A New York Times report from 2019 suggested that of the global total of 1.6 million, there are 400,000 Filipino seafarers.