The National Seafarers Welfare Board (NSWB) Nigeria has assured that seafarers on board ships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that they would receive wages due them for the extra days.
Chairman, NSWB, Kunle Folarin, stated this while responding to the fears of some Nigerian seafarers on a television programme.
During the virtual meeting, Folarin, who addressed the challenges and fears of Nigerian seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic, expressed the readiness of the board to provide assistance to Nigerian seafarers facing any kind of difficulties presently, saying seafarers who toil to keep the economic balance deserve their pays.
Where employers attempt to short-change seafarers, he urged victims of such ill treatment to lodge complaints directly to regulatory bodies, saying such matters would be dealt with decisively.
He explained that seafarers have a right to escalate such issues even to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) when they are not handled properly.
The NSWB chairman, who also referred to seafarers as, “the engine that propel international trade,” said they deserve support through a collective bargaining agreement as, “Nigerian seafarers should receive remuneration comparable with their counterparts all over the world.”
He disclosed that a tripartite agreement on seafarers’ welfare in which government represented by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) representing seafarers and Ship owners was reached in 2019 and signed by the parties.
On how the travel ban has weighed on crew changes, Folarin, who said that the shut airports and land borders have adversely affected the repatriation of seafarers said shore passes are no longer issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service so as to protect seafarers from contracting COVID-19 by coming ashore.
He assured seafarers that in extreme matters like health crises, and upon the recommendation of the Port Health, evacuation of anyone person with a delicate case can be arranged.
The ILO had recently, in a white paper called on governments to treat seafarers respectfully and to allow crew changes and travels for seafarers.
Folarin, also thanked organisations like Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria and Women in Logistics and Transport (WILAT) for supporting seafarers at during the pandemic.