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Union calls on NIMASA to bridge disparity between local and foreign seafarers’ wages 

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Segun Oladipupo

The Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to strengthen its enforcement on Cabotage Act , saying much has not been achieved to better the lots of Nigerian seafarers.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate, expressed worries over foreign dominance and disparity of indigenous seafarers despite trading in Nigerian waters with the same Certificate of Competency (CoC).

National President of the union, Comrade Bob Yousou stated this in a statement ahead of World Maritime Day celebration.

Yousou also sought NIMASA’s engagement with union for effective enforcement of the Act that would yield positive results.

In the statement signed by the Secretary General, Comrade John Okpono Aleakhue, the President was quoted as saying foreign dominance still persists in the nation’s coastal water, noting that issues of low and unpaid salaries by ship owners are some of the challenges faced by the seafarers.

The collaboration, he said, would further improve the effectiveness of the Cabotage Act.

He called for fair treatment of Nigerian seafarers as their foreign counterparts in line with internal EST practices and standards.

Part of the statements read, “We are calling on ship owners not to disrespect the Indigenous seafarers against their foreign counterparts because seafarers are the future of the shipping industry.

“This is world maritime day and we advice the ship owners not to assign their responsibilities to manning agents because according to the MLC 2006 convention, as amended by manning agents take instructions from the shipowners.

“The manning agent is only a representative of the principal hence they only take instructions from the ship owners. They can’t be autonomous.

“Seafarers deserved to be treated like Kings as they facilitate about 90% of the world trade.”

The union President also harped on the need for ship owners to ensure that seafarers are paid as at when due with the required benefits reached by all parties involved, urging the government to ratify and domesticate all relevant treaties and conventions associated with the maritime sector for the betterment of seafarers.

Engr. Yousou lamented that the wide gap on salary structure of local and foreign seafarers despite doing the same job or duties,  obtaining same qualifications, working aboard vessel is alarming pointing out that the regulatory agencies of the government should beam its searchlight on striking a balance on how best to prioritize Indigenous seamen.

The union leader said “We want NIMASA to also help treat issues or reports about Ill treatment metted on seafarers with seriousness. We are not against NIMASA in anyway but to advise them on the need to address issues affecting seafarers once such cases are reported to their office.

On the part of the seafarers, the union boss called on unregistered sailors to register with TUC affiliate group noting that their challenges is paramount to the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association in tackling.

However, he advocated for seafarers to work in harmony aimed at achieving set goals  to better their lots and the profession.

While lending his voice on the fishing sub sector of the maritime sector, Engr. Yousou urged members of Nigeria Trawler Owners (NITOA) to improve on the welfare of sailors, calling on the government to rectify convention 188F and other fishing conventions.

He lamented that the marine ecosystem need some level of cleanlinessness , saying dirt and other wastages are dominant in the marine space .

“It’s also of interest that the water be devoid of dirtiness. The water must be kept clean by Seafarers.

“The fishers are also taken into cognizant. They fish for the world populace as such employers of sailors should avoid hire & fire syndrome. They should be paid living wages as against what’s is currently obtained.

“As we celebrate world Maritime day, we urge NITOA to improve on the welfare and well being of Fishers . The government to rectify convention 188F and other fishing conventions.

“On behalf of NMNOWTSSA, I appreciate all stake holders and Seafarers for their contributions towards the Marine industry.”,he affirmed

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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