Thu. Sep 23rd, 2021

MANILA — A labor group on Saturday called for proper compensation and benefits to hundreds of Filipino workers of the M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who will be repatriated next week.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president Raymond Mendoza said the two months paid time off and other perks promised by the cruise ship’s operators to the overseas Filipino workers who were affected by the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) are not enough.

“We urge the shipowners, cruise operators, and its local manning agency here in the country to be fair and just with their workers. We call on them to be more transparent and forthright in terms of their obligations to the Filipino crew particularly those who were infected while working onboard and exposed to the deadly virus and with those who were exposed to the risk and subjected to quarantine in Yokohama and in New Clark City,” he said in a statement.

Mendoza also urged the companies to clarify who is covered by these benefits.

“Aside from two-month paid time off, the ship operators promised to provide extra pay if the crew decides to return to work, pay all expenses incurred during the quarantine period onboard, pay for flights returning home and new employment contract. However, there was no mention if these are applicable to those infected and to those uninfected crew,” he added.

Citing general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards for sea-based workers, he said the cruise ship owners should pay the unexpired and unfinished employment contracts of both who were infected and uninfected crew.

He added that all the Filipino crew, both infected and uninfected by Covid-19, are also entitled to the minimum 130-day sick pay compensation, paid quarantine period, and the medicine and hospitalization expenses for performing their jobs under the tension of being exposed to Covid-19.

“The Diamond Princess operators and owners should pay for the expenses for the entire repatriation process of the workers from Yokohama to New Clark City and not just pay for flights returning home,” Mendoza said.

Meanwhile, TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said they will monitor the assistance provided by the Diamond Princess and will provide labor lawyers for the repatriated cruise ship crew in case there is a need to elevate the matter to local and international labor arbitration.

He also called for the immediate creation of a safety and health manual protocols for officers and crew members of passenger cruise and cargo ships confronted by a contagious disease such as Covid-19 in local and international maritime bodies.

“Our maritime officers and crew personnel are well-trained for fire, piracy and storm distresses on board a ship. However, they are not equipped in managing and handling highly contagious viruses offshore such as Covid-19 for that matter. Fighting a virulent virus onboard ships adds another challenge for our seafarers,” Tanjusay said.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) rescheduled the repatriation of Filipinos aboard the cruise ship M/V Diamond Princess to early next week.

The DOH said this is for Japan’s health authorities to complete the laboratory testing of the Filipino crew members to be repatriated and comply with the established Japanese quarantine protocols.

They will undergo a 14-day quarantine at the Athlete’s Village at the New Clark City in Tarlac upon arrival in the country. (iamigo/sovereignph.com/PNA)

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