Merchant Navy Says New Wages For Seafarers Ready     

• Berates shipowners for stalling signing of new agreement

The Merchant Navy Senior Staff Association has said that a new document; Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which sought to bring about an increased remuneration structure for all Nigerian seafarers has been agreed upon and ready to take effect.

The union has however accused Nigerian shipowners of foot-dragging and stalling the signing process of the document.

Speaking with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos last week, General Secretary of the merchant navy union, Comrade Julius Efforkpo noted that immediately the CBA is signed by the union, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the ship owners,  a new condition of service would be drawn-up for seafarers.

According to him, the signing of the document was supposed to take place penultimate week during a meeting at NIMASA head office in Lagos, but the agent representing the ship owners, Dr. Grant Akata failed to attend the meeting without excuse. 

He said that the CBA was last reviewed in 2011 and series of meetings have been held between then and now. He however lamented that trying to buy time to delay the instrument because they felt the wages agreed upon was too much for them to pay. 

"The last meeting we held with NIMASA was last week and the ship owners did not turn up, it was a tripartite meeting and they were supposed to be on seat, we have completed the CBA, it’s just for the signatures to be signed, from a grapevine, we heard that the ship owners are not happy with the new wages structure so they are dodging meetings"

"We have resolved that the condition of service will be drawn up and there would be a caveat that the CBA we have signed is not the end of it all, the union would still go from company to company to negotiate on their platform, some companies might not be able to pay the money"

"Condition of service is a general condition for workers, while the CBA is collective bargaining agreement, some areas of the condition would be bargained and agreed upon"

"From the year 2016, we have been on this CBA, we have held series of meetings with the ship owners directly one-on-one and we reached certain terms and agreement, the general house have now decided to meet so that the signatures would be appended"

"It appears that they are trying to buy time to delay the instrument, they did it before by asking that we should begin all over again, but we said No way, this is a CBA that has expired since 2011 and it is overdue for renewal, they want us to continue to repeat the same thing until we are tired. They feel the money they are going to pay seafarers is too much, the idea is that the money is now a benchmark covering the entire industry, after this we would now go from company to company", he said

Giving an insight into the new wage system, Comrade Efforkpo said a seafarer on the Captain cadre working in the offshore industry is entitled to N1.1million while in the coastal is N750,000 monthly. For the officer cadre, he said some are on N550,000, while some are on N750,000.

According to him,  Dr Grant Akata is the agent representing the shipowners under the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN). 

He also alleged that the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) was nowhere to be found throughout the period of the negotiation.