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Merchant navy makes case for seafarers’ safety, recognition

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The National President of Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA), Bob Yousou, has regretted the challenges facing seafarers. He listed the challenges as neglect, repatriation, insecurity, unpaid wages and poor remuneration.  

Yousou, who spoke at the commissioning of the association’s national secretariat in Apapa Lagos, said the hazardous nature of seafaring is worth appreciating. He regretted that the country’s seafarers are maltreated and poorly remunerated by employers due to lack of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).   

“I want to urge the employers to look at the plight of Nigerian seafarers by paying them as at when due. The hazardous nature of seafaring is worth appreciating. We shall no longer tolerate slavery wages for seafarers. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard in terms of decent working conditions must be applied,” he said.
  

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Yousou also decried the proliferation certifications by some groups and reaffirmed that the union will continue to fight for the protection of seafarers with the right certifications.
  
He added that fake certification is a global phenomenon and must be condemned by regulatory agencies and employers to enhance global professionalism. He urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to enter into agreements with other maritime nations of the world in furtherance of seafaring.
 
He also decried the manner foreigners take up the jobs of Nigerian seafarers while calling on NIMASA to speed up the issuance of the certificate of competence to successful seafarers as well as expedite action on the issue of class 1 and 2 certificates.
He, therefore, advised seafarers to either join the Merchant Navy or the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to ensure that the CBA is in place before embarking on a voyage.
  
According to him, the union under his administration would engage shipping companies and manning agents constructively to protect workers’ welfare, adding that the two unions were the only seafaring bodies recognised and gazetted by the Federal Government.
A maritime security consultant, Rear Admiral Godwill Ombo (rtd), who spoke to The Guardian on the security of Nigerian seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea waters and the continuous pirates attack, lamented that the countries are not proactive as regards maritime security.
  
Ombo stressed that while the speed of the ship is slow in combating pirates, countries should adopt “air access” otherwise efforts at tackling maritime security would fail.
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