The ratification of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention by the Philippines was warmly welcomed by the organisations representing seafarers welfare worldwide. The International Committee on Seafarers Welfare (ICSW) and the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN) appreciated that the Philippines, the largest labour supply country in the world, had finally ratified the Convention and provided the trigger that would bring the MLC into force in twelve months time.
Speaking on Wednesday 22 August following a liaison meeting in London, the Chairman of the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare, Hennie La Grange, and the Chairman of the International Seafarers Assistance Network, Mark Chahine-Warrington, explained that many of the most severe problems experienced by seafarers would be overcome once the Maritime Labour Convention entered into force and provided that the provisions it contained were properly and fully enforced.
The ISAN Chairman, Mark Chahine-Warrington, said that:
"ISAN operates SeafarerHelp a multi-lingual helpline and referral service to seafarers worldwide 24 hours per day and 365 days per year. Of the more than 3,000 seafarers who contacted us last year virtually all of them were suffering acute problems that should not arise once the MLC is in force and effectively implemented. Proper enforcement of the provisions is vital as well as more widespread ratification in major port states, such as China and the United States."
The ICSW Chairman, Hennie La Grange, emphasised that:
"The MLC requires ratifying countries to promote port welfare services for seafarers and the establishment of welfare boards to oversee the location, the facilities and the services they provide. The MLC also contains recommendations on measures to be taken to ensure that the port welfare services are properly funded on a sustainable basis. Many of the ICSW members either operate and manage port seafarers centres, or they promote or participate in the work of national, regional or port welfare boards, so they both support the MLC provisions and they stand ready to help any country proposing to ratify the MLC to ensure compliance with the new mandatory welfare requirements."
Both organisations agreed to closely monitor MLC developments in the coming months and to be prepared to step in with offers of assistance to welfare organisations, to employers, unions or government agencies should their help be useful to ensure full compliance with the Convention.