The Chairman, National Seafarers Welfare Board (NSWB) Nigeria, Otunba Kunle Folarin has said that seafarers who have their stay on board ships extended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic would receive wages due them for the extra days.
Folarin, who stated this on Thursday while responding to the fears of some seafarers on a television programme tagged Live Conversations, expressed the readiness of the Board to provide assistance to Nigerian seafarers facing any kind of difficulties at this time, adding that seafarers who toil to keep the economic balance deserve their pays.
Where employers attempt to short-change seafarers, he urged victims of such ill treatment to log complaints with regulatory bodies and ensure that such matters are dealt with decisively.
He explained that seafarers have a right to escalate such issues even to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) when they are not handled properly.
The NSWB Chairman who also referred to seafarers as “the engine that propel international trade” said they deserve support through a collective bargaining agreement as “Nigerian seafarers should receive remuneration comparable with their counterparts all over the world.”
He disclosed that a tripartite agreement on seafarers’ welfare in which government represented by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) representing seafarers and Shipowners was reached in 2019 and signed by the parties.
On how the travel ban has weighed on crew changes, Otunba Folarin said that the shut airports and land borders have adversely affected the repatriation of seafarers noting that shore passes are no longer issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service so as to protect seafarers from contracting the coronavirus disease by coming ashore.
He assured seafarers that in extreme matters like health crises, and upon the recommendation of the Port Health, evacuation of person with a delicate case would be arranged just as he expressed appreciation to associations like Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria and Women in Logistics and Transport (WILAT) for supporting seafarers during the pandemic.
It will be recalled that the International Labour Organisation had recently called on governments to treat seafarers respectfully and allow crew changes and travels for seafarers.