As the world, and especially Nigeria marks the World Maritime Day, the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen their relationship with seafarers.
Particularly, the front line maritime union urged NIMASA to enforce the Cabotage act, saying that much has not been achieved in furtherance to better the lots of Nigerian seafarers.
National President of the union, Comrade Bob Yousou said “we want Ship Owners to consider Seafarers as essential Service providers and as such should not treat their issues with kid gloves. Seafarers deserved to be treated like Kings as they facilitate about 90% of the world trade”.
The Trade Union Congress TUC affiliate union expressed worries over foreign dominance and disparity of indigenous seafarers despite trading in Nigerian waters with the same Certificate of Competence (CoC) .
According to a statement signed by the Secretary General of the union , Comrade John Okpono Aleakhue, he quoted the President as saying foreign dominance still persist in the nation’s coastal water adding that issues of low and unpaid salaries by ship owners are some of the challenges faced by the seafarers.
He called that ship owners to treat seafarers fairly with their foreign counterparts in line with international best practices and standards.
“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 advise the ship owners not to assign their responsibilities to manning agents because according to the MLC 2006 convention, as amended, manning agents take instructions from the ship owners. The manning agent is only a representative of the principal hence they only take instructions/directives from the ship owners. They can’t be autonomous”.
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 thus the betterment of seafarers.
Engr. Yousou lamented that the wide gap on salary structure of indigenous and foreign seafarers despite doing the same job or duties.
The union leader said ” We want NIMASA to also help treat issues or reports about ill treatment meted 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”.
He also called on unregistered sailors to register with ITF and TUC affiliate groups noting that their challenges is paramount to the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association.
He advocated for seafarers to work in harmony aimed at achieving a common goal for the betterment of their chosen profession and themselves.
“It’s also of interest that the Marine ecosystem be devoid of dirtiness. The water must be kept clean by Seafarers and others. All must join hands together to make our water clean always.
“The fishers should also be taken into cognizance. They fish for the world populace as such employers of sailors/Fishers should avoid hire and fire syndrome. They should be paid living wages in line with international best practices as against what is currently obtained.
The National President, a seasoned Seafarer, urge the government of Nigeria to rectify convention 188F and other fishing conventions.
“On behalf of Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water transport Senior Staff Association (NMNO/WTSSA), I appreciate all stake holders and Seafarers for their contributions towards the Marine industry. Together we can make it better. Thank you and God bless. Solidarity for ever”.