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A sizable pay hike for seafarers despite pandemic

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Dec 10:

Despite reduction in trade due to COVID-19 induced prolonged lock down, the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has ensured nearly 40 per cent pay hike to over 50,000 seafarers serving on Indian flag ships including foreign going vessels, coastal ships, off shore vessels and harbour tugs. 
The 47th National Maritime Board (India) (NMBI) salary agreement was signed by Abdulgani Y. Serang, Chair, NMBI & General Secretary-cum-Treasurer of NUSI, Milind V. Kandalgaonkar, Secretary, Assistant General Secretary, NUSI and Capt. Shiv Halbe, Secretary, Ship Owners’ Association and CEO, Maritime Association of Ship owners, 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 1st January to 31st December. 
Initially the ship owners did not want to give any increase in the wages and in fact wanted  reduction in existing salary in the home trade (coastal shipping) and offshore vessels on the ground that they suffered losses due to corona pandemic. But NUSI strongly defended the interests of the seafarers and opposed salary reduction and insisted upon salary hike. 
As per the agreement some of the allowances will be merged with salary since due to many allowances, some of the companies were cheating our seafarers and were not giving all the allowances to them.  The intention of merging allowances with salary is to make easy for seafarers to keep track of their actual entitlements, NUSI Assistant General Secretary Milind V. Kandalgaonkar said. 
Salary hike
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 tol 31st December, 2020). 
The seafarers attached to off shore vessels : In this category there will be 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 per cent for Petty Officers in the basic wage for the next three years. Besides there will be an increase in leave 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 exclusive 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
Other benefits with 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. They companies will organise training courses to enhance the skills of the seafarers. The companies will have counselling infrastructures for the wellbeing of the seafarers’ mental health. There will be no discrimination in the entitlements of seafarers on the basis of culture, race, caste, creed, religion and region.

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