Asean shipowners oppose ITF model wage scale

The Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Associations (FASA) has expressed opposition to the unilateral decision by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to establish an ITF model wage scale, a benchmark on minimum wage for non – domiciled seafarers employed on national flag vessels.

In a recent general membership meeting, FASA viewed this initiative as a strong attempt by the ITF, a non-governmental organization (NGO) to unilaterally dictate a minimum wage scale on national flag vessels and which it opined is a clear violation of national policies.

“The underlying intention of this move by the ITF is also viewed as an attempt to force an increase in the International Labor Organization (ILO) minimum basic wage rate for able seaman,” said FASA.

 As the shipping industry has not fully recovered from the impact of the recent global financial fallout, and in light of a potential surge in crude oil prices, FASA is strongly against any impending move by any international seafarers employers’ organization to enter into any direct negotiation with the ITF on any future increase in the ILO minimum wage rate.

FASA stressed that any such increase will put additional stresses on the financial strength of the shipping industry.

Following concerns about climatic changes and rising sea levels, FASA has reiterated that protecting the marine and air environment is one of the primary concerns of the shipping industry.

FASA members have pledged to work together to bring about reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

It also noted with concern a revised accounting standard proposed by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) that will remove the distinction between finance and operating leases, forcing owners that charter in tonnage to record period time charters as finance leases and place them on their balance sheets as liabilities – such a standard may force owners into breach of covenant with their lenders and impact on owners’ credit ratings, equipment financing strategy and forecasting models, thereby restricting owners’ flexibility and ability to maneuver.

FASA is of the strong opinion that the proposed revised standard should not be supported as the proposed changes may not achieve the desired effect of comparability but could instead lead to misleading information being provided as well as place a significant burden on the shipowning and ship chartering industry.

FASA chairman Johnson Sutjipto thanked all the FASA members for their strong support and cooperation.

He also urged members to continue and serve the federation with full dedication in the interests of ASEAN shipping.

Sutjipto expressed deep appreciation for the strong confidence and encouragement accorded to him in 2010 and agreed, with the full cooperation of all members, to continue promoting FASA as a voice for ASEAN shipowners.

Roll-on Roll-off vessels cut costs of basic commodities

The cost of basic commodities in far-flung Philippine islands has been considerably reduced with the use of roll-on, roll-off (roro) vessels financed by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) under its Sustainable Logistics Development Program (SLDP).

Asian Marine Transport Corporation (AMTC) president Paul Rodriguez said the roro has provided many benefits to small businessmen such as the elimination of double handling in loading and unloading of goods, damage and pilferage of goods and the reduction of unnecessary port congestion since goods are no longer stockpiled in the ports.

Diesel price has been cut down from P58 to P51 a liter while a bag of cement now costs P220 from P230 in the island of Camotes, Cebu after the establishment of a Roro route linking it to Danao City in mainland Cebu.

Rodriguez also cited that a liter of a popular soft drinks brand in Cawayan, Masbate now costs P25, down from the previous P30 after the area was connected to Bogo, Cebu through the roro.

Meanwhile, cement prices have gone down to P235 a bag in Dinagat island after the establishment of the Surigao City – Dinagat island roro connection.

Rodriguez also said that the company’s Super Shuttle Ferry carries an average of eight fish carrier trucks daily with approximately 80,000 kilos of fish caught from Dapitan to Dumaguete and transported to Caticlan in Aklan; Roxas, Oriental Mindoro; Batangas then finally to Navotas in Metro Manila.

Rodriguez also mentioned the roro’s effect on tourism particularly in Camiguin, which has registered the the third highest growth rate in tourist arrivals in the country due to accessibility made possible thru the roro connection of Jagna, Bohol to Camiguin Island.

PCG embarks on maritime safety training

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has embarked on cross-training programs with partner services and maritime nations in the areas of maritime safety and security and marine environmental protection.

In line with the directive of Pres. Benigno C Aquino III for all government agencies to integrate their efforts and strengthen inter-agency cooperation, PCG has partnered with the 4th Special Forces Battalion and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines for the conduct of joint training on maritime law enforcement and life saving in Zamboanga City.

 The training was participated by 15 members PCG’s Special Operations Group and 15 personnel of the Riverine Unit of the 4th Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army.

PCG has shared their personnel expertise in basic water survival, navigation, scuba refresher training, recompression chamber operations, boarding procedures, rules of engagement and legal aspects of maritime law enforcement.

On the other hand, the AFP shared their expertise in combat life saving techniques, small unit tactics, marine interdiction operations and basic close quarter combat, while the US contingent shared their knowledge and skills on underwater demolition and post blast investigation.

 Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo has directed the search and rescue vessel, BRP EDSA-II fitted with a recompression chamber and complemented with a medical doctor onboard to participate and serve as a training platform in Zamboanga.

Commander Artemio Abu is the commanding officer of BRP EDSA II (SARV 002) which is under the operational control of Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao under the command of Commodore Rodolfo Isorena.