Ahead of the World Seafarers’ Day Celebration today, seafarers union has renewed its calls for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to check the activities of manning agents operating in the country.
The World Seafarers’ Day celebration for 2018 is tagged "Seafarers’ Well-Being”. Seafarers Day is a day set aside for celebration of seafarers worldwide.
Speaking with Business and Maritime West Africa in Warri, Delta State on Sunday, President of the union, Engineer Matthew Alalade lamented that the number of existing manning agents in the country is unknown and it is a problem for the union.
The Union's National President also warned manning agents to desist from threatening seafarers with job losses if they report cases of underpayment of workers to either NIMASA or the union, pointing out that the MLC 2006 stipulations must be allowed to succeed in Nigeria.
He explained that the agents extort seafarers by collecting a large percentage of their first salary before job placement.
According to him, the workers are afraid to speak out in order to secure their jobs, calling on NIMASA to carry out annual certification of the legitimate manning agents in the country for proper documentation.
"Before they place workers onboard a ship they will demand a large percentage of the seafarers’ salary before the employment proper and these are some of the things we want both NIMASA and ship owners to know.
Alalade accused the agents of failing to remit dues meant for the union accurately and asked NIMASA to monitor them and wield the big stick when necessary.
He further called on ship owners to caution the manning agents over short- changing seafarers. “All parties involved in the tripartite agreement must be up and doing in line with the Maritime Labour Convention”.
"NIMASA is the regulatory agency and the ship owners are the people that employ the manning agents. Therefore, they should monitor the activities of the agents to know what they offer the seafarers.
Deputy President of the seafarers’ body, Comrade Boniface Akwuboi called on NIMASA to embark on a total implementation of the cabotage law because foreigners are treated much better than their Nigerian counterparts.
Akwuboi said that the essence of the annual event is to discuss on how the lots of seafarers can be made better irrespective of race, nationality and certificates.