INDIA. Mumbai: Despite the reduction in trade due to COVID-19 induced prolonged lockdown, the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has ensured a 40 percent pay hike to over 50,000 seafarers serving on Indian flagships including foreign going vessels, coastal ships, offshore vessels, and harbor tugs.
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The 47th salary agreement of the National Maritime Board of India (NMBI) was signed by Abdulgani Y. Serang, Chair, NMBI and General Secretary-cum-Treasurer of NUSI, Milind V. Kandalgaonkar, Secretary, Assistant General Secretary, NUSI, and Capt. Shiv Halbe, Secretary, Ship Owners’ Association (SOA) and CEO, Maritime Association of Shipowners, Ship Managers and Agents(MASSA) on Tuesday.
The tenure of the agreement will be from 1st April 2019 till 31st December 2023. The pay hike will be effective for the calendar year from 1st January to 31st December.
Initially, the ship owners did not want to increase the wages and infact wanted a reduction in existing salary in the home trade (coastal shipping) and offshore vessels on the ground that they suffered losses due to COVID-19 pandemic. But NUSI strongly defended the interests of the seafarers and opposed salary reduction and insisted upon salary hike.
As per the agreement, aome of the allowances will be merged with salary. This decision was taken as it was observed that some of the companies were cheating the seafarers and were not giving all the allowances to them. The main motive behind the merging of allowances with salary is to make it easy for seafarers to keep track of their actual entitlements, NUSI Assistant General Secretary Milind V. Kandalgaonkar told the Transcontinental Times.
Following are the details related to the salary hikes of the seafarers:
The seafarers working on foreign going vessels: An overall increase over 40 percent for Ratings and over 30 percent hike for Petty Officers in the basic wage for the next three years. The arrears for 21 months ( from 1st April 2019 till 31st December 2020) will be paid to them.
The seafarers in home trade (coastal shipping): An overall increase of nearly 20 percent for the Ratings and Petty Officers in the basic wage for the next three years. They will be entitled to arrears for the period 1st April 2019 to 31st December 2020).
The seafarers attached to offshore vessels: In this category, there will be a moratorium from 1st April 2019 to December 2020. However effective 1st January 2021, there will be an overall increase of over 10 percent for the ratings and over 7 percent for petty officers in the basic wage for the next three years. Besides, there will be an increase in left for the Off-Period from 75 days to 77 days effective from 1st January 2021 for the ratings.
The seafarers working on harbour tugs: A 10 percent increase in the overall salary for the period 1st January 2021 till 31st December 2022 for the seafarers working exclusively on harbour tugs. There will be a cumulative increase of 5 percent in the salary for the period 1st January 2023 till 31st December 2023. (This category is being covered under the NMBI agreement for the first time).
Other benefits will come under effect from 1st January, 2021: For Ratings– Death compensation-Rs. 22 lakh (earlier Rs.18 lakh), Disability compensation-Rs.25 lakh (earlier Rs. 22 lakh), For Petty Officers— Death compensation-Rs.24 lakh(earlier Rs 23 lakh), Disability compensation-Rs 28 lakh(earlier Rs. 27 lakh).
Additional Death and Disability compensation for working on ships carrying Radioactive Cargo on board- For Ratings-Rs. 3 lakh, For Petty officers- Rs. 4 lakh. Piracy watch allowance—The seafarers injured during piracy watch-Rs. 50,000/-..Besides Rs.80,000/-allowance for loss of personal effects.
All the seafarers discharged on medical grounds (death and permanent unfitness), while they are taking treatment at company expense will be compensated under the Death and Disability Clause. Besides, the companies will re-employ seafarers who have sailed with them earlier based on their appraisal reports. The companies will organize training courses to enhance the skills of the seafarers. The companies will have counseling infrastructures for the wellbeing of the seafarers’ mental health. There will be no discrimination in the entitlements of seafarers based on culture, race, caste, creed, religion, and region.
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