The Government of India recently gave ‘in-principal’ approval to the demand of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) to offer provident fund, gratuity and pension benefits to Indian seafarers. This development will benefit around 4 lakh Indian seafarers of all ranks working onboard Indian as well as foreign ships.
On the instructions of NUSI, more than 25,000 seafarers had signed a petition addressed to the Honourable Prime Minister during the Covid 19 pandemic last year. Post this, the demands of NUSI have been finally met.
‘We are very pleased to inform you that today, 11th January 2021 in the 137th Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Seamens’ Provident Fund under the Chairmanship of Shri Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping, it was finally agreed to extend the benefits of provident fund, gratuity and pension to all ranks of more than 4 lakh merchant navy seafarers working on both Indian and foreign flag ships’, announced Abdulgani Y. Serang, General Secretary –cum- Treasurer, NUSI, and Executive Board Member – ITF.
It was in the year 1963, that National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) led an agitation of merchant navy seafarers and protested outside the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. The merchant navy seafarers were unhappy because they were kept out of the purview of the Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952. The agitation resulted in the enactment of the exclusive Seamens’ Provident Fund Act, 1966, for merchant navy seafarers.
While the provident fund for seafarers is in the statutes for Indian flag ships, the gratuity and pension is still a bilateral arrangement between NUSI and the shipowners as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
For nearly two decades, NUSI has been demanding the 3 benefits of provident fund, gratuity and pension to become statute for all ranks of seafarers i.e. officers, petty officers, ratings, and others serving on both Indian and foreign flag ships.
Abdulgani Y. Serang added, ‘We heartily thank Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Honourable Minister of Shipping, and the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for agreeing to the long pending demand of NUSI for the benefit of all ranks of seafarers on Indian flag and foreign flag ships and their families. Seafarers and their family members are very happy at this great development which will take care of them when they are not working on ships.’
National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) is the only union to celebrate century in the year 1996. NUSI has now completed 121 years in the dedicated service of seafarers and their families in particular and the Indian shipping in general. Over the years there has been nothing but improvement in working conditions of ratings and petty officers who are working on Off-shore, Home Trade and Foreign going vessels.
NUSI is affiliated to the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), London. On issues common to the interest of both Officers and Petty Officers, Ratings, NUSI alongwith the Maritime Union of India (MUI) is together as the Indian Seafarers Federation (ISF).
Sea News Feature, January 14