…As Merchant Navy Union Commissions New National Secretariat, Apapa
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has threatened to delist any manning agent engaging in deduction of check-off dues from seafarers wages without remitting them to the Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh issued the threat yesterday at the commissioning of the new national secretariat of the Merchant Navy Union in Apapa, Lagos.
Manning agents are employment agencies for seafarers. They also help ship owners and managers by providing labour supply of seafarer to perform various jobs on a ship.
Jamoh who was ably represented at the function by Capt Kennedy Ifiemotohan commended the Merchant Navy Union for putting together the benefiting secretariat in spite of the challenges of the Covid-19.
He charged the union not to relent in reporting any manning agency engaging in illegal deductions from seafarers salaries.
“Challenges of manning agents that are not remitting check off dues should be reported to the agency, anyone found wanting would be delisted from our records” he said
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association, Eng Joseph Bob Yousuo said the union would no longer tolerate slavery wages for her Seafarers.
He said the International Labour Organization (ILO) standard in terms of decent working conditions must be applied.
“It’s on this note we urge NIMASA as the regulatory Agency to come to the aid of our members, so as to minimize abandonment/repatriation, unpaid wages & poor remuneration. Enough is enough of some Manning Agents that deduct our members’ monthly check-ott dues without remitting some to us. We appreciate those who do remit to us monthly”
“I want to urge the Seafarers employers (Ship-owners & Manning Agents) to always look at the plight of Nigerian Seafarers by not owning them their desire wages, but pay as at when due. The hazardous nature of seafaring is worth appreciating”
Eng. Yousuo commended the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and NIMASA for its e-registration exercise.
He however urged NIMASA to do more in the area of foreigners taking up the jobs of Nigerian seafarers and to speed up the issuance of Certificate of Competency to successful Seafarers, also, to expedite action on the issuance of Class ll & l certificates unlimited.
Eng Joseph Bob Yousuo was elected into office on 25th of January 2020 with a campaign slogan “The Dawn of a New Era”
In less than one year, he has relocated the national headquarters of the union from its previous location to a more benefiting accommodation.
Speaking on the newly commissioned office, Eng Yousuo urged all seafarers to see the national headquarters as their home and to make use of the facility.
He assured that the union would now embark on fighting for good wages for the Nigerian seafarers.
He said that “The next line of action for us is that next year, we would start going from company to company to dialogue and make the seafarers know that without the union, they cannot achieve anything”
He said the union would also be looking into the various Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed with the shipping companies and the seafarers.
“We cannot fight for a seafarer that does not have CBA, many of them are suffering today because they dont have the CBA, the earlier the seafarers know that they must join the union, the better, this is the only legal body that can fight for their right” he said
On his part, the African Regional Secretary of ITF, Mohammed Safiyanu disclosed that the body is currently collaborating with NIMASA, the Merchant Navy Union and Maritime Workers Union Collaborating with NIMASA to upgrade the certificates of Nigerian seafarers in order to get them jobs internationally.
Safiyanu lamented that based on ITF records, there is dearth of Nigerian seafarers in the global arena.
“What we understand is that the certification that we have right now is a local certification that has just Cabotage trade, but we are trying to see how to enhance it such that Nigerian seafarers can have that international certification, and we can see them engaging more in international arena” he said
The Merchant Navy Union is an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the ITF.
Other dignitaries who graced the epoch making event were; the Managing Director of Bourbon Offshore, Mr Magnus Ibe, the leadership of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) led by Deputy President General, Comrade Tonye Harry, Rear Admiral Godswill Ombo (rtd) immediate past President of the Merchant Navy Union, Eng Matthew Alalade and a host of others.