EU - Philippine game of chicken

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EU - Philippine game of chicken

Postby Athena » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:25 am

Almost every commercial ship in the world has a Filipino crew-member, and the country continues to be one of the biggest sources of merchant seamen. This leadership in a particular sector of the global labor market, however, has been imperiled since May 2011, when the European Maritime Safety Agency or EMSA informed the Philippine government that the country was not compliant with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for seafarers.

The Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Labor and Employment, reacting to the EMSA notice, had ordered the shutdown of courses in erring maritime schools, but were stopped by the courts. Today, nearly two years since the EMSA notice was issued, the Philippines is still not sure of staying out of the European maritime “white list.” Next month the European Commission will reportedly conduct a one-week audit of Philippine maritime schools to determine if the ban should be imposed.

The importance of complying with international labor standards cannot be overemphasized. The EMSA warning, arising from what the Europeans deemed to be the substandard quality of training in Philippine maritime schools, nearly led to a ban on Filipino seamen on EU-registered vessels. That would have affected an estimated 80,000 Filipinos, who remit about P4.5 billion in earnings every year. Philippine authorities expressed concern that if the EU imposed the ban, countries including Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States might follow suit.

Despite court intervention in efforts to upgrade the quality of merchant marine training, the Philippine government has managed to implement other measures to prevent the EU ban. But the ban can only be deferred; the country will ultimately need to comply with international standards.

Administrators of Philippine maritime schools, if they want their businesses to survive, should themselves want to reassure the world that the education and training they provide are at par with global standards. Those who want to supply workers to the world have no choice but to play by international rules.
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