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Friday, October 21

Greens question seafarer training standards

The Government should investigate the adequacy of Filipino seafarer training, in light of serious concerns raised by the European Commission, said the Green Party today.

The European Commission has threatened to ban Filipino workers from European Union registered ships, following a report by the European Maritime Safety Agency which raised concerns about the level and quality of training for Filipino seafarers.

"Given the tragic consequences that can occur when things go wrong at sea, it is of the utmost importance that our Government ensures that all vessels entering New Zealand waters are crewed by well-trained individuals," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman from Tauranga today.

"Considering that the Rena was a flag of convenience ship, crewed by Filipinos - whose training is under question - I hope the Government will consider greater scrutiny and regulation of our coastal shipping vessels and crews.

"The Greens back the adoption of higher standards for coastal shipping that support the use of local crews and ships that know New Zealand waters and hazards," said Dr Norman.

The European Commission reportedly notified the Philippine Government in May 2011 that the Commission would withdraw recognition of Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates issued by the Philippines, unless the Philippines addressed deficiencies in the country's maritime education, training, and certification system. Without STCW recognition, Filipino workers would be banned from European Union flagged ships.

The Philippine's Labour and Employment Secretary said the Philippines had sent a report to the European commission on August 26, 2011, identifying the corrective actions they had taken. Reports indicate that the European Union Committee on Safer Seas will consider the report and make a final decision.

"The issue is not that the workers are Filipino, but that there are problems with their training. The Green Party supports workers' rights, including the right to adequate training, to ensure that all seafarers are able to operate safely in our waters," Dr Norman said.

"Unfortunately, Filipino seafarers have become fodder in the global race to the bottom to produce and transport goods as cheaply as possible, and could be missing out on the proper training they need and deserve.

"In light of the Rena, and questions about the adequacy of some overseas maritime education and training, the Government needs to consider greater safeguards and standards for New Zealand coastal shipping," said Dr Norman