NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Mr. Manoj Yadav, President of Mumbai Port Trust Kamgar Ekta Union Mumbai, India and General Secretary of Forward Seaman's Union of India
By Sea and Coast | 27/12/2018

We welcome and are thankful to you. At the very first, we would like to light the facts which brought you to be a seafarer, the time, the good and the bitter areas of the journey till being the president of the MBPT Kamgar Ekta Union?

Thank you very much. It has always been adventurous being a sailor and serious tough task to be a leader to fight for justice for Sailors and Dockers.

The FSUI is a large entity like other Seafarers Unions in India. We see the major functions of the unions are to take care the welfare, job security and assist the seafarer’s family in case of any mis- happening. What would you say in respect of these lines and can we sight any such incident where the FSUI has done it for seafarer?

The Union is another home for members where they feel safe and trust the leadership to take care of their rights and welfare for them as well as their family, now days some of the unions are acting as political party and its time when trade unions must behave as trade unions only. We believe the task for all unions are same to provide assistance to their members as well as to educate them, to protect them, and prepare them for upcoming challenges. Yet, yes we have thousands of examples where FSUI stands with their members as well as their families; it is difficult to describe the pain of sailors and their families during the time of any accident, detention of crew members, missing etc. FSUI is always at the forefront to fight for the justice for them nationally with the help of affiliates like CITU as well as globally with the help of ITF. In a recent case where two of the sailors who were detained at overseas for more over 2 and half years FSUI played a major role to bring them back safely which gives lots of satisfaction to our job for what we are committed for.

The industry has been facing recession for last 15-20 years. How are you managing the functional heads of the organization?

Any organization functions only with the help of contribution of their members and during time of recession our job responsibility arise double when seafarers are facing problems to get job, cheated by illegal recruiters.

It is pride to head such an organization like FSUI. What are your future plans to ensure that the FUSI stays flagship organization in respect of the welfare, working & living condition and the working hours of seafarers?

Yes, it is pride for me to head this organization and it becomes more prestigious when 15 year back I became a member of this organization as a trainee OS and now leading at forefront. Being a sailor I know the contribution of sailors to the nation and problems faced by them onboard and at shore, even some interests of the sailors have been protected after ratification of MLC 2006 but much has to be done on the same. Even Seafarers have no pension plan after retirement, still medical plans are not on track, accommodation facility are very poor, protection of their job are under threat. Our organization has a Map plan for same which will be executed in future.

The Indian Maritime Industry is in the phase of getting new shape for last few years. The Central Government has been working on many projects such as Blue Water Economy, Sagarmala. How do you feel the future opportunities for the Indian seafarers in terms of “secured jobs” in India?

India has more scope for their sailors at the Indian Coasts as well as Inland vessels in upcoming project by the Indian Government as mentioned, but some amendments are required in the Act to allow certified seafarers for these vessels. As we have already started a Campaign to organize and protect the interest of Sailors working on Inland vessel as well as River Class vessel and continuously raising to Government to regularize the jobs in these sectors with certified sailors.

Being an affiliate of ITF in India how do you contribute with respect to bring up the Indian seafarers, their jobs, work schedules, welfare, salaries etc?

Being an affiliate to ITF a global Transport Federation it is our duty to protect interests of the sailors and dockers, Indian as well as Foreign seafarers visiting Indian ports. FSUI affiliation with ITF is over one decade old and we secured assistance of their strong affiliation at every port globally for our Indian Sailors in trouble. It is team work which allows us to overcome problems faced by our members at foreign ports. I would like to share through this conversation that FSUI is now their ITF TCC Approved CBA for Indian Sailors and we are happy that we shall be able to provide more welfare facilities to our sailors and their families.

This is pride to head an organization on top level and that comes true by hard work, dedication, confidence, knowledge and the better coordination. A seafarer prefers above all to work in an International Market. How do you feel that the present Indian Marine officers and their ratings are better compared to that of seaman from another country?

Our officers and crew are more dedicated, loyal to their job and due to their skills, communication we are there in the global market, but now days the challenges are not only from the other national seafarers but also from the Automation. Continuously increasing technology is a big challenge and to save the jobs we need lots of training and upgradation of our Sailors in upcoming days to overcome the challenges.

The Indian maritime administration has taken a right step to revitalize modern maritime education and training, especially the online system of controlling and monitoring 150 or more maritime colleges. On the other side, the CDCs are open to every Indian on minimum 10th standard. What measures do you advise to maintain safety of life at sea and balance between trained and untrained seafarer?

This is compulsory and mandatory to make our presence in global shipping industry. Increasing the technology in the sector requires amendment in education system which will start from institutions only. Our opinion is that the CDC on the basis of basic STCW courses may affect the quality of seafarers due to lack of proper training which they are getting from Pre-Sea Institution. It is well accepted that Indian Sailors are well known about their quality of communication as well as skills but getting CDC on the basis of basic courses is not sufficient and threat to the safety. On other side the ratio of Jobs is very less as compared to the total number of Certified Seafarers, increase in the number of CDC Holder will be another challenge to maintain the standard wages, social security as well as other benefits covered by various CBA’s.

What will you suggest to the Indian seafarer so as to India to Head the World Maritime Industry in next ten years?

It requires the attention of the Government to increase the jobs for Indian Sailors in global market, initiative of the Government to promote Indian sailors requires entering into some agreements amongst the ship owners country. Development of education system to face automation is one of the major key to promote our sailors in future.

Finally what is the massage to the Indian seafarers and the Indian Marine Industry?

Sailors are the important Assets of county and their contribution is very important to the society globally. Only up gradation of their skills and knowledge are the key of their success. Unity always gives the strength to overcome your problems. Always remember your challenges are not limited to village, district, state and country, it is with global market and your performance will decide the future. We as FSUI always stand with you and your family.

What is the present scenario with regards to employment in shipping sector that is yet to pick up, because of unemployment to the qualified officers mainly lower rank looking for the job - how do you intend combating this major issue?

Like any other Sector Shipping Sector is also facing challenges of Automation and reduction of manning scale accordingly. Not only officers but crew members as well are facing problems for their employment. This is the time where we have to be equipped and get familiar with new technology including development of education to overcome such issues. As FSUI is continuously fighting for the security of jobs to Indian officers as well as crew members, FSUI Campaign to regularize the Inland Sector with Certified officers and crew will play major role in generating the jobs.

Are you involved in taking care of the shipboard personnel who have not been paid their wages by many shipping companies?

Yes, if you check the previous records FSUI has the major role to take the case up to get back the wages of Seafarers. We can quote many names, including big players GOL Offshore, Varun Shipping, Halani Shipping etc.

How do you propose fighting for those who have lost their hard-warned money and now penniless because they have not in received wages?

FSUI is known for its fighting gut for seafarers for over 6 decades; hence it’s our daily routine to perform our duty with these types of challenges, yes most of the times it is difficult to get back the wages even through Administration. In this situation we have no other option but take the help of Hon’ble Court. Presently three Vessels are detained by various courts on behalf of FSUI and legal proceeding is in process to get back the wages of sailors.

Are you also associated up with MUI for ensuring the wages of the seafarers?

Not Exactly as our constitution allows us to organize Officers, also we have large numbers of certified members and we are taking care of their interests by all possible means.

What about dock workers strike? Are you involved in sorting their various issues also?

Seafarers and Dockers are the two sides of the same coin and without support of Dockers it is difficult for any Trade Union representing seafarers to either provide assistance to seafarers or fight for their rights. Hence supporting each worker’s interest whether Seafarers or Dockers is our duty. Due to the demand of port workers working with Mumbai port we started a union named as Mumbai Port Trust Kamgar Ekta Union and during this festival of Dipawali large number of Permanent Mumbai Port workers put their faith in us and joined the union to fight for the rights of Dockers.

What is FSUI Agenda? Since Filipinos are getting employed in most of the Big Ship Management companies if FSUI is contemplating of making room for our Indian seafarers.

As we many times said that FSUI has always been on front fore to secure the jobs of seafarers for the Indian as well as Foreign Flag, without compromising the rights of sailors. We started our campaign Stop Non RPS in 2013 which was widely published including the ITF magazine globally; it was only to secure the jobs of Seafarers as well as for their safety at overseas. Our seafarers are well qualified to perform at the highest standards and that is the reason why Indian Sailors are in Global Industry. Due to sudden collapse of some Big National Flag company the ratio of waiting Sailors has increased. Our ongoing campaign about Inland Sector has the opportunity to open the room for Seafarers to work on National Carrier. We are of opinion that the Government should include the Seafarers Job Promotion policy as a Serious Task with the Foreign Owner’s country which will allow our sailors to get more opportunities.

Tell us about Seafarers Welfare and Gratuity Fund and about Retired Seafarers benefits, Widows of seafarers who have lost their lives while on duty, if you have any agenda towards the education of Seafarers girl child, any other scheme that FSUI is contemplating towards Seafarers employment? FSUI is also an affiliate ITF what are the development and services FSUI is providing to seafarers, retired seafarers, widows of seafarers etc.

SWFS is the helping hand society for Indian Seafarers but still many benefits schemes are yet to be implemented, at the same time there are various funds which were deposited to various other trusts or individual accounts are to be brought back in SWFS which will help more to perform. FSUI has its own trust name WISE (Welfare for Indian Seafarers Everywhere) at Kolkata and has been providing financial assistance to retired seafarers and their widows. Recently FSUI TCC CBA has been approved by ITF which opened the doors for our members to work on foreign flag vessels. After getting this CBA it is an opportunity for us to assist our members for education to their children, medical, and to meet other necessary needs in future.