I am, I know the seafarers are going to be happy because there is light at the end of the tunnel. However we do not all know their plight except they go to their various unions which are the Merchant Navy Association and Maritime Workers Association to register their complaints. if they keep distance from these unions, then we cannot know the problem they are facing. Seafarers who are with the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officer and Water Transport Staff Association are happy because we defend their rights. We have just signed the Nigerian Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) with NIMASA which is similar to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With this, seafarers will be able to have level benchmark on their salary and their commission of service too. The seafarers should continue fighting for their rights according to the MSC 2006, that is the IMO condition for seafaring, so their rights are not trampled upon. I also want to urge them to register with the different associations.
No because the government has not put the necessary things in place for the seafarers welfare to be improved upon. Nigeria is not willing to adopt to the system that guides the seafaring business. Seafaring is an international business but the government has not been able to adapt to international standards. Seafarers in other countries make good money. For instance if a country is given out a job to do, the implementation of the job matters a lot. Even at the local level, when you give a contract, if you don’t ensure that the contract is fully implemented then the aim of giving out the contract is farfetched. The issue is that when a company that is the Federal government give out jobs to these foreign companies and local multinational companies that has to do with marine, do they think about those who are working in that sector fully implement the provsions of the contract? Shipowners that do not want the contract properly implemented, will not abide by the laws and the government is not taking any step to put a stop on these acts.
Although, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Nigerian Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) has been signed with NIMASA, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Federal Ministry of Transportation were present with the associations like Maritime Workers and Merchant Navy. What is agreed is that every shipping company as from henceforth will negotiate with the trade unions (Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and Merchant Navy) and that all seafarers starting from the senior to the junior cadre working with these shipping companies should ensure that the companies they are working have a CBA and if not, they should be reported to the associations because a framework has been put in place. The agreement is a robust one in line with international standards. Every seafarer should report to the unions any company that is recruiting and laying off seafarers, or paying wages that does not in any way reflect the present living condition in this country. With this agreement, I believe if seafarers do not hide their plights, then things will improve with them because NIMASA has helped to put this structure in place. This is a good development for seafarers. It is one of a kind; this agreement is a comprehensive ome and has been going on for a while now, since last year. It has been completed and is commendable; this is a step forward for Nigerian seafarers.
The condition of service for Nigerian seafarers is poor compared with what foreigners collect as remuneration from the shipping operators. Nigerian seafarers need to be encouraged by treating them equally with their foreign counterparts. The poor remuneration for Nigerian seafarers in the country has made some of the workers to look for better working conditions outside the country. Local ship owners cut corners when it comes to Nigeria seafarers but goes outside to employ foreigners to work aboard their vessels with better salaries and good working conditions. I know if Nigerian seafarers are placed on the same salary as those from other countries, it will bring about a robust and healthy competition. These foreigners are in no way better than their Nigerian counterparts either through qualifications or experience. I urge NIMASA to ensure that ship owners do the needful to encourage indigenous seafarers.
No I am not happy. The government should provide the enabling environment for Nigerian seafarers to operate like their counterparts in other parts of the world; they need to fashion out a decent wage regime and improved working and living condition for seafarers in line with what is obtainable internationally. As Nigerians and maritime operators, we should be proud of our seafarers and also encourage them to develop their careers/competences like their foreign counterparts. The welfare of seafarers is critical to the growth of the maritime sector. I know that with the help of Collective Bargaining Agreement, the condition of Nigerian seafarers will have a turn-around for good.