Vol 75, No 1 (2024)
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Published online: 2024-03-29

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Regulating seafarers’ welfare: an examination of the protection of Filipino seafarers’ well-being through a legal analysis of the POEA-Standard Employment Contract

Jean Ver P. Pia1, Roderick Galam2, Inga Bartusevičienė3
DOI: 10.5603/imh.98244
Pubmed: 38647055
IMH 2024;75(1):10-18.

Abstract

Background: The Philippines is the global maritime industry’s single biggest source of seafarers. This article
examines how the Philippines protects the welfare of its seafarers working on board ocean-going vessels.

Materials and methods: We employed a multi-method approach to better understand the POEA-SEC as
a regulatory instrument. First, we analysed Philippine legislation and regulations that are shaping the employment,
welfare, and working conditions of Filipino seafarers. Second, we examined the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC) which requires that
minimum standards of employment for seafarers are met. We use legal analysis to examine three specific
provisions that pertain to their well-being: duration of employment, monetary considerations, and working
conditions in terms of hours of work and rest periods. Third, we analysed interview and focus group data
on the experiences of Filipino seafarers on board ships in respect of the POEA-SEC’s efficacy in protecting
their well-being.

Results: Analysis of the policy environment for Filipino seafarers shows how the interests of powerful actors
have taken precedence over those of Filipino seafarers. Seafarers’ experiences suggest that they cannot
be reached by the contract, whether symbolic or otherwise. The contract fails to address seafarer issues,
such as security of tenure, excessive working hours resulting in fatigue, stress and anxiety.

Conclusions: The POEA-SEC falls short as a legal document to address occupational, health and safety
issues, which contribute to the detriment of seafarers’ health and well-being. This indicates that the Philippine
government cannot fully protect its seafarers.

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