NIMASA to improve condition of service for Nigerian seafarers

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced a review of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for seafarers for the next two years covering 2022 to 2024, with the aim of improving the condition of service of Nigerian seafarers.

At the completion of the review of the CBA, NIMASA is expected to roll out new and improved minimum standards and conditions of service for Nigerian seafarers.

Speaking in Lagos on Wednesday at the inauguration of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the minimum standard for Nigerian seafarers, Bashir Jamoh, the director general of NIMASA, said the reviewed CBA will put an end to the perceived discrepancy in the working condition of Nigerian seafarers with their foreign counterparts.

“The issue of discrimination in terms of payment and compensation between Nigerians and other nationalities will be a thing of the past. Payment of remunerations and compensation is not charity to seafarers but their rights. We owe it a duty to maintain quality standards for the best interest of the business of the shipowner, the regulators and the government,” Jamoh said.

The NIMASA boss said that ship owners can only guarantee their investment if they keep to the terms stipulated in the agreement.

He added that the review has come at a better time when NIMASA is on the verge of amending the NIMASA Act 2007, and the Merchant Shipping Act 2007.

Victor Ochei, executive director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of NIMASA, said that the regulation of the minimum standard and working condition of seafarers through the instrument of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has created a harmonious working relationship between seafarers’ employers, their unions and the seafarers, thereby leading to improved productivity.

According to him, the review is needed to have improved wages and living standards for seafarers operating in the Nigerian territorial waters, who undoubtedly are an integral part of the maritime sector.

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“The official inauguration of the NJIC for seafarers is a bold step towards promoting their welfare, in line with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006. In essence, improved welfare for seafarers is also geared towards the promotion of decent work agenda of the Internal Labour Organisation (ILO) which is all about safe work, a decent wage and freedom of association,” he added.

He said the review is expected to give due consideration to issues relating to seafarers’ wages and welfare in line with the country’s current economic realities.

Adewale Adeyanju, president general of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), called for sanctioning and discipline of employers of seafarers who fail to adhere to the provisions of the agreement.

While lamenting over the living standards of ageing seafarers discharged from the defunct Nigeria National Shipping Line, he appealed to NIMASA to consider paying the pension of those old seamen.

Adeyanju however called NIMASA attention to the actions of the bonded terminal and private Jetty owners, who go against the provisions of the agreement.

Bob Yousou, president of Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, urged NIMASA to pay serious attention to the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the CBA.

He said Nigeria cannot achieve the set targets of ensuring quality well-being for seamen if employers of seafarers do not honour the condition of service.

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