The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Friday said it expects Filipino sailors aboard foreign merchant ships to send home via bank wire a record $5.5 billion this year, mainly on account of increased deployment to Europe.
“A growing number of Filipino sailors are being dispatched to Europe, especially to the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Greece and The Netherlands,” said TUCP president and former senator Ernesto Herrera, whose labor center includes the Philippine Seafarers’ Union (PSU).
Remittances from Filipino sailors already hit $2.746 billion from January to June this year, an increase of $223 million, or 8.84 percent, versus the $2.523 billion that they wired home in the same six-month period in 2013, Herrera added.
Cash transfers from sailors grew twice faster compared to the remittances from land-based migrant Filipino workers in the first semester, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
“The remittance growth was due to a boost in hiring. Some of the increase may also be attributed to rising inflation here at home, prompting sailors to send more money to their families to enable them to cope with the surge in food and other consumer prices,” he said.
TUCP has been batting for the aggressive deployment of sailors, nurses and other surplus skilled workers to foreign labor markets, to help ease domestic joblessness and promote a rising standard of living for Filipino families.
“We prefer the deployment of highly skilled surplus labor because they tend to enjoy superior conditions of employment. Since their skills cannot be easily replaced, they are treated well by employers,” Herrera pointed out.
The Philippines has been the world’s chief supplier of sailors since 1987. Some 375,000 Filipinos comprise one-fourth of the estimated 1.5 million merchant mariners worldwide.
The top 10 sources of remittances from Filipino sailors in the first semester were the United States ($1.326 billion), the United Kingdom ($237.583 million), Germany ($194.844 million), Norway ($183.529 million), Japan ($149.295 million), Greece ($141.452 million), Hong Kong ($123.084 million), Singapore ($110.194 million), The Netherlands ($45.726 million) and Italy ($23.511 million).
The $223-million jump in remittances from sailors accounted for 36 percent of the aggregate increase in cash transfers from all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), both on land- and sea-based, in the first semester.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously reported that remittances from all OFWs hit $11.421 billion from January to June, higher by $621 million, or 5.75 percent, versus the $10.800 billion that they sent home over the same semester in 2013.
Land-based OFWs transferred $8.675 billion from January to June, up $399 million, or 4.82 percent, from the $8.276 billion that they remitted in the same six-month period last year.