MESAN Counters MWUN’s Claim Of Nigerian Seafarers Being Among Highest Paid Globally

By Sylvanus OBASI, Lagos

The Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria (MESAN) has strongly countered the assertion made by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), saying that the Nigerian seafarers are among the highest paid globally.

Recall that while receiving the Coordinator of International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Barning Annica Marie who paid a working visit to MWUN’s headquarters on Monday, the President of Seafarers Branch of MWUN, Comrade Sunday Avose was quoted to have said that Nigerian seafarers are one of the highest paid globally going by the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed by the union with the Ship Management of NLNG.

But in a swift reaction to the statement, the Secretary-General, Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Capt Dr Alfred Oluwasegun Oniye countered the statement saying, “Recent statements by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) have painted a rosy picture of the earnings of Nigerian seafarers, claiming they are now among the highest paid globally. However, a closer examination of the maritime industry’s compensation landscape suggests a different reality.

“Globally, seafarer salaries are governed by various factors, including the demand for maritime labor, the cost of living in different regions, and international standards set by bodies such as the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). While it is true that the ITF has been instrumental in advocating for better pay and working conditions, the assertion that Nigerian seafarers are among the highest paid warrants scrutiny.

“Moreover, the Nigerian Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) has been embroiled in discussions to address wage disparities and improve working conditions. The fact that such negotiations are ongoing indicates that the issue of low pay is a recognized problem within the sector.

“Further complicating the narrative are reports that categorize Nigerian seafarers among the lowest paid in the world. These accounts suggest that the average monthly take-home pay for a Nigerian seafarer is significantly below the ILO minimum wage for Able Seamen. Such discrepancies raise questions about the veracity of claims regarding their high earnings.

Speaking further, the MESAN Sec Gen maintained that “while the efforts of MWUN and the ITF are commendable, especially in securing better Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), the claim that Nigerian seafarers are now among the highest paid seems premature.

“It is crucial for all stakeholders, including the government, maritime unions, and industry players, to work collaboratively towards a transparent and equitable wage structure that reflects the skill and dedication of Nigerian seafarers”, Oniye posited.

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