Thursday, May 31, 2012

Injustice for Seafarers

Injustice for Seafarers

The number of seafarers facing criminal charges is certainly increasing. According to Seafarer's Rights International (SRI), the numbers of maritime criminal incidents and of detained seafarers increased for the 12 year period from 2000-2011. The study was based on a review of such incidents as reported in Lloyd's List, Tradewinds and Fairplay wherein 415 incidents were reported during said period involving 1,580 seafarers. A survey was also conducted by SRI during a 12 month period (2011- 2012) involving 3,480 seafarers which was conducted in eight languages and received responses from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities. The survey results are as follows: 8% - faced criminal charges; 4% - witnesses in criminal prosecutions; 33% - knew of colleagues who faced charges; 24% of masters in said survey faced charges; 44% - were bodily searched; 87% - did not have legal representation; 91% - were not provided interpretation services; 89% - said their rights were not properly explained to them; 80% who faced charges felt intimidated or threatened; 81% who faced charges said they were not treated fairly. Guilty or innocent, seafarers are entitled to due process under any legal system. This is a very serious concern which should be addressed by the entire maritime industry in order to protect seafarers worldwide.

Eduardo R. Meneses Jr. (

Sanctions Violations

An executive order signed May 1 penalizes people outside the U.S. who facilitate sanctions
violations, for instance by using the U.S. financial system to access dollars. About 90 percent of the fleet is financed in the currency, Petrofin estimates. Under a U.S. law signed Dec. 31, countries that fail to show they are reducing their oil imports fromIran by June 28 will have their banks’ access to the U.S. financial system blocked. Japan and 10 European nations received exemptions in March for a renewable period of 180 days.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Discrimination in terms of Salary

8 years ago, I almost decided to quit seafaring and settle for a land-based job. My reason? The salary was not that great compared to the pressures you need to endure (physically, intellectually and emotionally). On top of that, there was a very demoralizing discrepancy if you compare salaries with a seafarer of the same rank from a different country. Back then, a Japanese, a European or an Indian seafarer received a significantly larger salary compared to a Filipino seafarer doing the same job. It was only in 2008 when the tables really turned and seafaring became a lot more lucrative, especially for Management Level Officers. I personally was onboard a vessel that time, and there I experienced my salary increasing every few months. I even had a stint as a directly hired 1st Engineer in Australia where I received Australian standard wages, and I was the only Filipino onboard giving orders to Australian junior officers. This recent change has been very welcome and opened new doors for Filipinos. Whatever the reason for this change, the Filipino Seafarer not only deserves it, it has already been long overdue.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Simpsons on Labour

Lisa, if you don't like your job you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way.

-homer (the simpsons)

Smithers: Even so, sir, we could stand to lay off a few employees.
Mr. Burns: Oh, very well! (Points at the monitors) Lay off him, him, him, him...(Sees Homer wearing Kissinger's glasses) Hmm...better keep the egghead. He just might come in handy.

-Mr. Burns (the simpsons)

Mr. Burns: We both want a fair union contract.
Homer: (thinking) Why is Mr. Burns being so nice to me?
Mr. Burns: And if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
Homer: (thinking) Wait a minute. Is he coming onto me?
Mr. Burns: I mean, if I should slip something into your pocket, what's the harm?
Homer: (thinking) My God! He is coming onto me!
Mr. Burns: After all, negotiations make strange bedfellows. (chuckle, wink)
Homer: (thinking) Aaahh! Sorry, Mr. Burns, but I don't go in for these backdoor shenanigans. Sure, I'm flattered, maybe even a little curious, but the answer is no!

-Mr. Burns & Homer ( the simpsons)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Seapower 1

I just came from gruelling but exciting discussion with air force cadet officers.  Cadets are here for a two-day traditional school visit to meet their counterpart – naval officer cadets here in Zambales.  The subject of our discussion was about seapower and I think this is something that is worth sharing it to all of you. 
Seapower is the sum of a nation’s capabilities to utilize the sea for political, economic, and military use to meet national interests or objectives in peace or even in times of war.  This is the primary method or approach for us to implement our national strategy.  This holds true, if and only when our country leaves her customary national strategy which is the continental (land-based) strategy and shift to maritime (sea-based) strategy.  Maritime strategy is more suitable and proper for the Philippines considering we are an archipelagic and a maritime nation.  Now, readers might ask, what are these capabilities or instruments that we need to meet the requirements of seapower?  These requirements are found in the elements or sources of seapower, sometimes they are simply called the components of seapower.  Indeed, seapower is a very broad topic to discuss and so I intend to continue it next week for a better appreciation and understanding. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Early last year I was destined  to  join one of the largest  publicly traded tanker company in the world. I must say  I am a neophyte in a shipping industry.  Here, I had  the opportunity  to access the crew payroll in detail and compared it against the payslip of an  ordinary private employee.   I must say  that indeed,   being  a “seaman”  is quite a lucrative job.  They truly deserved such,  because aside from the risk associated with their work  being  with your love ones  is for me - priceless.  Well- paid as it shows, I stumbled on one benefit  that  an ordinary private employee is availing but is absent  for seamen.  This  is the  Retirement /Pension Benefit,  wherein  an employer  provides   a lump sum benefit payment to employee upon retirement.   I believe this idea is  somewhat  raw and  still need  further research, if why  seaman are not given such benefit.  But why can’t they have it, like other working employees? IPM

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eight ways to reduce the strain of a seafaring life identified by the SIRC study 

*Shorter trips (preferably no longer than four months)
*Paid leave of a comparable length to sea time
*Continuous employment, rather than employment by voyage
*Training time to be added to leave period
*Opportunities for partners (and children where possible) to sail
*Improved access to cheaper communication
*Increased contact between seafarers’ partners and their employers
*Opportunities for seafarers’ families to make contact with each other while crew are at sea.

Executive Order No. 75 as a major step to resolve EU ban on Filipino Seafarers

Last year, the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) said that many maritime training schools in the Philippines do not comply with the regulatory framework thus produce poorly trained graduates.  EMSA gave Philippines a chance to solve the problem in one year. If the Philippines cannot resolve the deficiencies, EMSA will ban Filipino seafarers in European Union. That is why on the 30th of April 2012, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III signed the Executive Order No. 75, which is a major step to answer the maritime industry's ambiguity in the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW).  Through E.O. No. 75, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) will now be the single administration responsible in managing the training, education and certification activities of the Department of Labor, the Technical Education Skills Development  Authority, and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), also, MARINA will now oversee the improvements and reforms, and ensure full-compliance with the standards.

Crossworld Machine, (2012, May, 13). Philippines Takes a Major Step in Resolving Maritime Problems. Retrieved May 22 2012, from Hellenic Shipping News Web Site:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Women and Seafaring

Traditionally, seafaring has always been a male-dominated profession - mostly due to ignorance and superstition - but largely due to the sexist belief that women are weaker and inferior. Over the past two decades, the maritime industry has seen a rise in the employment of women as ship's officers. The Philippines itself started deploying female officers in 1997. Although the process has been quite slow (with only a handful of companies open-minded enough to adopt such a program), a few have made it to the management level. I personally know one - she was my junior in the Academy - who was recently promoted to Chief Mate onboard an Oil-Chem Tanker. She reached that position only eight years after graduation - a feat that even male counterparts (and a lot of her seniors) find difficult to achieve in the Tanker industry. The time may yet come when the proverbial "glass-ceiling" will shatter for Filipina seafarers and discrimination against women in the maritime industry may as well become a thing of the past.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"SUSI" is out!

A newly made software release by DNV named SUSI (survey simulator) will help junior/senior surveyor to experience a survey like no other. A survey inside and outside the ships/offshore while sitting in the office. Like counterstrike (a popular game when I was in High school), SUSI helps surveyor to see rules and regulation while doing a virtual survey. I hope this will be released in the Philippines and Help our MARINA in giving more quality inspections. *ehem*

Friday, May 18, 2012

Employment Discrimination

Employment Discrimination
Employment discrimination is the secernment of an individual on work based on sex, race, national origin, citizenship, language abilities, disability on physical characteristics, belief, religion and age, also height or weight and place of origin by employers. This discrimination can also mean unequal treatment of an employee to another employee. Usually, there is bias of individuals in recruitment, hiring, wage, job position, job responsibilities and layoffs. Furthermore, this discrimination causes people to engage in poor work, pessimistic manpower, weakened feeling on the worker, negative issues for the people as well as lower income to the company. In order to eliminate discrimination at work, Employment Discrimination Law was promulgated, therefore should be followed such as the title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on color, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, and sex, including sexual harassment; Equal Pay Act which addresses unequal pay related to gender; and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which helps protects employees who are 40 years of age or older (, 2012). In the Philippines, we have article 135 of the Labor Code saying that “it shall be unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex” (Article 135, LCP), and Employee’s right to self-organization and the right to strike (must comply with the Department of Labor and Employment Guidelines) saying that employees can voice out their interests, complaints and demands for negotiation with their employer (1987 Constitution and Labor Code of the Philippines). People must know the law to know their rights and exercise it to protect them from unfair treatment (Remember: Ignorance of the law is not an excuse), learn to accept diversity, be a good employer and employee, government agencies and private entities must comply with the labor laws, and respect our differences (, 2012). People must enjoy the equal opportunities at work because if they are happy with their work and on their healthy relationship with their colleagues, they will strive more, learn more, therefore progress more because there is no hindrance on their mental and emotional development.
Sources: Employment Discrimination Law Global Legal Resources May 16, 2012 May 17, 2012