Up to 40,000 Philippine seamen working for Japanese shipping companies could lose their jobs this year as vessels are laid up due to the sharp fall in world trade, an official said Wednesday.
Japanese ship owners employing more than 40,000 Filipinos as crew have notified Manila that their operations may be downsized, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque told reporters.
Crew members working on car carriers, bulk carriers and container ships would be the first to go, he added.
About 300,000 Filipinos work on merchant shipping around the globe, according to official data.
As trade demand drops worldwide some foreign ship owners have also filed notice they would lay up their vessels and cut crews this year, said Ericson Marquez, head of a group of ship-manning agencies based in the Philippines.
"In the next six months, we can see more Philippine crewmen repatriated," Marquez said.
At least 433 container ships have been laid up worldwide due to lack of cargo, Marquez said.
Roque said 45 of these foreign vessels are laid up at Subic Bay, north of Manila, and in the southern Philippine port of Davao.
"The demand for seafarers is still there but it is only for a particular kind of ship, like tankers," Marquez said.
"If we don’t have those specialties, there could be dislocation in the manning industry," he added.
Roque said Manila has asked Tokyo's transport ministry to help retrain displaced Philippine seamen.