July 25, 2024

Seafarers Push for Review of Wage Scale

Seafarers Union of Kenya (SUK) Secretary General Atie Swaleh addressing thePublic during the International Seafarers' Day at the Bandari Maritime Academy.(Photo By Harrison Kivisu)

By Harrison Kivisu

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

The seafarers union of Kenya (SUK) has asked the government to initiate a review of its members’ salary on an upward scale to cushion them from exploitation by some rogue employers.

While acknowledging the efforts to improve their welfare by the Kenya Maritime Authority, the union wants a standard salary scale that will motivate its members and make a contribution to the economic growth apart from improving their welfare.

Addressing the international Seafarers’ Day at the Bandari Maritime Academy, SUK secretary general Atie Swaleh expressed concern over salaries’ discrepancies that should be rectified from local ship companies.

She asked the government and relevant agencies to remove the age cap to allow experienced seafarers to get jobs alleging the elderly were being discriminated against because of safety issues while working at sea.

The SG made a plea to local companies to take advantage of the skilled elderly so as to grow the maritime sector that was facing hiccups in the shipping industry.

“We have our elders who are qualified, they have all the skills, why are they being victimized and denied opportunity, we ask the government to do something,” she said pleading with the government to adjust the laws.

She said that while speaking during the seafarer’s celebration at BMA on Tuesday (June 25, 2024) with its this year’s theme “safety tips at sea.”

“We are also pleading with lenders not to be choosy when giving facilities, it’s not right to be selective when giving loans to our seafarers.

“We must stay united so that our members can achieve their desires, we a lot a lot of issues that we can achieve when we remain united.“

International transport worker’s federation (ITF) representative Betty Makena said there was need to improve workers safety standards while working both locally or internationally.

Makena, without naming any specific case, claimed that some seafarers were duped by unscrupulous operators to get fake stamps while others had faked documents to sneak their way in the job market.

“We have been having a serious problem with fake documents at the maritime sector and we ask the government to look at that, because it’s giving us a bad name.

“Our seafarers are being cheated to get fake stamps, they are duped, let’s not agree to get fake stamps that deny us jobs, the tools are very transparent so we ask our seafarers to be ethical.”

According to her the US visa has a very big problem, therefore, asking the government to address the visa issue through the current goodwill partnership so that seafarers could work in there.

“We are asking KMA to rein in recruiting agencies that continue to fleece job seekers. If operators don’t get jobs for our people we ask KMA to deregister them,” she added.

The maritime council agent’s chairman Mwinyi Jahazi asked the government to enhance protection of seafarers against exploitation by employment agencies.

“We want the government to protect our seafarers from exploitation, we have rogue employers who have continued to violate workers’ rights,” he said.

Among the seafarers was Kadzo Harriet who said for the last eight months in the Royal Caribbean jobs has been asking seamen to reposition themselves for the job market.

“I urge fellow seafarers to observe safety at sea, let’s ensure as Kenyans we stay professional, we now have laws that protect pregnant members, they now have an opportunity to come home, deliver their baby and return after 18 months to work at the same rank,” she said.

Other partners who included Kenya Commercial Bank Kilindini Branch manager Colins Obiero said the continued partnership with the seafarers’ fraternity would boost them with financial support through credit facilities.

 “KCB is supporting with credit facilities to seafarers with good credit records to facilitate their economic ventures, already we want to extend the support because so far over 200 seafarers have borrowed,” he said.

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