The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association have accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of playing double standards with manning agents to frustrate implementation of the recently signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for seafarers.
While NIMASA is the apex maritime regulatory agency in Nigeria, the manning agents recruit seafarers on behalf of the shipowners.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS in Lagos yesterday, President of the seafarers union, Eng Matthew Alalade lamented that manning agents were denying the union of their checkoff dues which has already been deducted from the seafarers wages.
He alleged that the manning agents were getting backing from NIMASA to frustrate the union and starve her of needed funds to run its operations.
Alalade also alleged that manning agents deliberately sideline any seafarer that already belonged to a union, he said such a seafarer is not given a employment onboard by manning agents.
According to him “In terms of progress on the CBA, for now, we have not seem any progress”
“Heads will roll in NIMASA because we are coming after them now, they are supporting the manning agents, maybe we would even find ourselves in court, we know that NIMASA is playing double standards, it appears that the manning agents are settling them”
“The manning agents are giving us tough time, the shipowners depend on the manning agents for their manpower, so the manning agents are not in corporation with the labour”
“Most of them deduct their checkoff dues but they are not releasing it to us, and we are the ones defending the seafarers in Nigeria, we talk on their behalf, but the manning agents are not giving us corporation at all”
“We don’t know if NIMASA is playing double standards, because when you talk of MLC 2006, it is an annual thing that must be renewed and NIMASA is the overseeing agency for the government, so we don’t know how these manning agents interview the crew or asked which union they belonged to and how are they faring”
“The shipowners have their manning agents but we don’t know where they are remitting to, because they don’t remit to us.Also, before the seafarers join any vessel, they will ask if you are a union member, once you belong to a union, they will sideline you”
Alalade also disclosed that the union would have embarked on an inspection onboard vessels to ensure the seafarers are being treated well, but that security reasons and safety concerns is deterring them.
“For security reasons and safety, it is the shipowner that will inform the people onboard that you are coming. Before now, you can go onboard because it was porous, but now you cannot just go onboard”
“They would want to know what you are coming to do, once they know that you are unions, they don’t want you to come nearer to the vessel” he said