By Samson Echenim
Shipowners, manning agents and seafarers have signed a collective bargain agreement (CBA), an operational deal that spells out employer and employee expectations.
The signing ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) with the CBA tipped to improve Nigerian seafarers’ condition of service.
CBA is a contract on hiring, working conditions and dispute resolution between an employer and a union, the latter representing employees of a defined group. It affords the group of employees an opportunity to bargain as a group with their employer regarding wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment in a process called “collective bargaining”.
Nigerian seafarers had accused ship-owners of developing cold feet in the move to signing the CBA which concerns remuneration and welfare of seafarers onboard ships, just as ship-owners described the development as putting old wine in a new bottle.
However, the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) yesterday signed the much awaited conditions of service with Dakuku Peterside, director general of NIMASA, stressing that the newly signed condition of service is a minimum standard in line with international standards and regulations.
Peterside who was represented at the signing by Gambo Ahmed, executive director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, urged all shipowners and seafarers employers to ensure that they comply with the new regulations.
He said, “As an agency, we are happy to midwife this process that will enhance the welfare of our seafarers. I wish to commend the Seafarer Employers in the Offshore and Coastal sectors for their cooperation and understanding in seeing through the whole process. I implore them to also ensure that the CBA which is meant to guide Shipowners in their tripartite negotiation and the development of all employment agreement is implemented as endorsed”
Speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, Matthew Alalade, president of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) lamented that the delay in signing the CBA caused a lot of hostility between Nigerian seafarers and their employers.
The union leader opined that the newly signed CBA centred mainly on the welfare of the seafarers and implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006).
“We thank God that it has come to pass now, but what we want is that it shouldn’t be so long like this, it took us an extra two years to come to today’s reality. We hope that NIMASA will henceforth monitor the process and let it come when it is due, it should be reviewed immediately” Alalade said.