The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Associated Philippine Seafarers Union (APSU), the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), and their manning agents are all clamoring for government intervention to allow additional humanitarian flights to enable crew change to take place involving 80,000 – 100,000 Filipino seafarers in danger of not being able to go home or of being deployed.
“The Government has to do a better job in terms of crew change implementation by clearing these bottlenecks now if it is to save the seafaring industry. Workers have been onboard for as long as one year with extended contracts, this is unhealthy and will result in accidents for our workers. Further, workers who have been waiting for opportunity to board so that they can provide income to their families cannot board because of all the bottlenecks and logjams in our airports and in our provinces,” TUCP President and Chairman of the House Committee for Overseas Workers Affairs Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza said.
“We understand Qatar Airways has already offered additional daily flights to Cebu, Clark, and Manila in order to clear the bottlenecks caused by the caps on arrival in our airports. This has to be immediately addressed by the Government otherwise we are at risk of losing the international seafaring market,” the lawmaker said.
In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte dated July 23 2020, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Associated Philippine Seafarers Union (APSU), the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), and Qatar Airways expressed their support for the Philippine seafaring industry and offered additional daily humanitarian flights to the airports in Cebu, Clark, and Manila.
Their proposal to collaborate with the Philippine Government would ensure that the current backlog can be expediently addressed.
“TUCP supports the proposal of the ITF and Qatar Airways to provide three additional flights a day to rush the repatriation of an expected 150k seafarers back home within the next six months, and to facilitate crew change. Bottlenecks and quarantines in provinces prevents the free flow of travel, and we should take up this offer of Qatar Airways for these flights that are to be paid by the shipowners,” he added.
On Thursday, August 13 2020, the TUCP will be holding a joint press conference together with representatives from the seafarers´ and manning sectors, in pursuit of preventing the real danger of people losing their jobs, and to hopefully bring this grave issue to the attention of the Government.
“There is a need for enhanced interventions to save this multi-billion dollar industry, as there are 150,000 seafarers who will need to undergo crew change within the next six months. Many of our crew are already serving overextended contracts – this is extremely dangerous to their health and safety, as well as to the health and safety of those working in the ports.”
“Both management and workers are working together through national and international efforts to find ways to address the challenges their sector is facing. We hope that the government will take advantage of the offer which is key to saving the jobs of these workers,” Rep. Mendoza explained.