Have you ever experienced being onboard, then suddenly finding out someone bought your vessel? We’ve recently taken over several ships and we know how concerning this might for the current crew onboard.
It’s common for ships to be bought and sold while they’re still at sea. Sometimes, the owner doesn’t change at all, but they’ll choose a different ship manager to take care of the vessel. A new ship manager usually means a new crewing agent as well. When the principal changes, crew often wonder what comes next. Uuwi na ba ako? Saan ako pwede lumipat? These questions are important, and job security is one of the main concerns that seafarers will have.
Based on your POEA contract (now DMW), you have options and some protection in case you experience a change of principal while onboard. Let’s go through all the possible scenarios.
The new principal will bring in a new crew to take over the vessel
There’s no easy way to say this––but your contract will be terminated if new crew are coming onboard. However, you’re still entitled to your wages, for all the work you’ve rendered. You’ll also receive one-month basic pay as a form of termination pay, and your original principal will cover the cost to fly you back to the Philippines. But there are times when the contract doesn’t get terminated at all, and you get to continue your employment with your original principal. How? Let’s find out!
Your principal and manning agency will offer you a different vessel where you can complete the rest of your contract
In this situation, your employment contract is not terminated. You’ll continue working, but on another vessel, and under your original principal and crewing agency. While waiting for the joining date to arrive, you’ll continue to receive your basic wages. However, not all principals and their crewing agents will be able to find you another vessel. This is the reality of the industry and the risk that comes with contract-based employment. When there’s no vessel available, you go back to situation one (1), and take the termination pay.
But let’s say the new principal wants to keep you on their vessel…what happens then?
The new principal asks you to sail with them
If this is the case, you’ll have to decide if you will stick with your former principal or move on to this new one. The ball’s in your court, kabaro! If you accept, you get to stay onboard. A new contract will be made to reflect the new principal and crewing agency that you’re now working with.
Will I be paid the same wages if I move? Yes! There should be no diminution of wages. If you had additional terms and arrangements with your former principal, make sure you discuss this with your new employer. A new principal that’s offering you the chance to join them should also make the effort to answer your questions. You should also do your own research into the company, as well as their crewing agency, before you decide to make the switch. If you decline their offer, you return to situation one or situation two.
Special mention- Check your CBA if you have one!
Check the terms of your CBA in case there are additional protections that are available to you if your ship is sold. For example, your termination pay might even be higher than one month of basic.
Changing owners and principals is common in the industry. Whatever the reason, what’s most important is that people, especially seafarers, are protected throughout the process. Lydia Mar Manila is committed to professionalism whenever it finds itself in the position of taking over a vessel, or turning it over to a new principal. If you’re a seafarer that’s affected by these kinds of transitions, talk to your agency and employer, and always double check your contract.