Nigerian seafarers have rejected the newly approved Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) wages after realising that they were earning 61.5 per cent less than their foreign counterparts.
The new wage was approved by the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) but it is far below international standard.
The newly signed CBA centred on the welfare of the seafarers and implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006.
Finding revealed that the new wage approved last July by the International Transport Federation (ITF)/ International Labour Organisation (ILO) for master mariner was (N1.33million) $3,657 per month, excluding other benefits, while a Nigerian counterpart earns only N500,000.
Also, foreign cook and steward take home under the statutory consolidate minimum wage is $1,028 and $1,205 respectively, while their local pals earn between N140,000 and N120,000.
The Secretary General of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria (MSAN), Capt Alfred Oniye, who was angry with the new seafarer salaries, explained that the seamen were not represented or consulted in the process that led to the signing of the agreement.
Also, he blamed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for not creating an enabling environment for shipowners to prosper in their business in order to pay good money to crew members.
He added that the new bargaining agreement would only address some people’s selfish interest.
Oniye said that MSAN had disowned the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association (MNOWTSSA), who were both present at the signing of the agreement.
According to him, the two unions had not spoken in the interest of Nigerian seafarers.
Oniye said that the practicing seafarers in the country would stage a protest against the agreement.
He said: “The CBA as signed is not going to change anything, I have looked into it, I have asked seafarers and what they kept saying is that they were not carried along to state their own position. I can tell you that 70 per cent of the shipping companies will not dance to it. The seafarers are not involved in this CBA and this agreement has a lot to do with the seafarers themselves.
“The law says that you cannot fight for anybody that is not your member; it is freedom of association and it is when you belong to the association that their law will govern you.”
Oniye noted that a review of seafarers’ wages in the country was long overdue.
The President of Merchant Navy Senior Staff Association of Communication, Transport and Corporation (MNSSAC), Engr Mathew Alalade, had already said that the local ship owners were not getting contract from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to lift cargoes.
He said that lack of cargo to be lifted was the major reason why the salaries of seafarers were domesticated by the shipping companies.
According to him, NNPC suppose to give contract to indigenous shipping companies but it preferred to patronise the multinational or foreign shipping lines.