EVEN as the seafaring industry provides one of the best compensation for its workers, majority or more than 50 percent of Filipino seafarers do not live a good or comfortable life or even ended up broke after retirement because of lack of career planning.
Capt. Gaudencio Morales, president, Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP) disclosed that it is the reason why a lot of seafarers, including ship captains and other officers, were still on board even if they were already due for retirement.
“We are suggesting that at 55 or 60 years old, it is time to retire. But their reason is as long as they are still hired by shipowners they would continue working. The truth is, majority of them have not prepared for retirement. They don’t have money or savings,” Morales told The Manila Times.
He also noted that many seafarers were so-called “one day millionaire” and has lots of excess baggage, like financial support to their relatives, among others.
A ship master, he said, earns $8,000 or more a month, which is equivalent to more than P5 million a year but some of them don’t even have a house of their own.
Asked on the percentage, Morales clarified that there is no statistics on how many have prepared or have not prepared for their lives after their seafaring days.
He pointed out though that in his view, a retiree can be considered prepare if he has a house and lot of his own, his children have finished college and has a small business.
“But majority, more than 50 percent do not have a good life after retiring if we based it on my standard of preparedness,” Morales said.
According to Morales, there are an estimated 365,000 Filipino seamen on board international vessels at any given time but there is no actual figures if how many of them were retirables.
“But in my company around 5 to 10 percent are retirables but still hired because of owners preference,” he added.
To have a smooth flow in the seafaring profession, Morales said that there is a need to educate and provide the junior officers with back-up plans to prepare them for their reintegration to normal life when they retire.
“This is what we are pushing to our junior officers. You must have to prepare for this, you must have career planning so that there will be a smooth flow and the junior officers will have the chance to become chief mate, become master, chief engineer and retire at the right age or at an early age,” Morales stressed.
It is the reason, Morales said, that he has proposed to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) the creation of a program, funded by the seafarers’ welfare fund, that would provide the effective pathway for their reintegration to society.
“I proposed for the creation of an institution or training center where seafarers can train on special courses or diploma courses on how to become a shipowner, a ship manager or a businessman after their seafaring careers. Courses that they need and clamor for,” Morales further said.
Morales said that the ISP, in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Employment-National Reintegration Center for OFWs (DOLE-NRCO), is holding a yearly business plan competition for seafarers to teach them how to become entrepreneurs.
He pointed though that learning how to make a business plan is not enough, thus the need for a specialized institution that would cater to and teach seafarers on how to run a fishing, real estate and agricultural business, among others.
“Retiring seafarers have already tasted the good life and earned well. So what they need upon retirement is the knowledge that would provide them the tool on how to run a business with good return of investment,” Morales said. “It should be according to their needs.”