Breaking News: MESAN Counters NMNOWTSSA Claim On Increased CBAs, 10,000 Membership Growth

The Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria (MESAN) has yet again countered a claim made by a sister association, the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA), that it has secured about 20 Collective Bargaining Agreements with Shipping companies and manning agents as well as increased membership from three to about ten thousand Nigerian Seafarers in the last 4 years.

Recall that the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association NMNOWTSSA has stated that its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with shipping companies and manning agents rose from five to about twenty in the last four years.

The seafarers’ group, an affiliate of Trade Union Congress (TUC) also announced that within the last four years under the leadership of Comrade Bob Yousou, recorded membership growth from about 3,000 to about 10,000.

These figures was announced by the Secretary General of NMNOWTSSA, Comrade John Okpono Aleakhue in Lagos on Tuesday when the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) London, Project Coordinator on Maritime Affiliate Support project( MAS) Mrs Barning Annica Marie paid a working visit to the national secretariat of the union.

According to Aleakhue, the union has made significant achievements in the last four years for members welfare adding that relevant agencies of the government are in touch whenever issues bothering on seafarers’ activities arise.

But in a swift counter claim issued today by Secretary-General of MESAN, Capt Dr Alfred Oluwasegun Oniye, he queried the quality of CBAs secured by the group as well as wondered if Nigerian seafarers are up to 10,000 in number.

According to him, “While the NMNOWTSSA asserts an increase in CBAs, it’s essential to scrutinize the specifics. The mere numerical increase does not necessarily guarantee improved conditions for seafarers.

We need to evaluate the quality of these CBAs. Are they comprehensive, addressing critical issues such as wages, working hours, safety, and health provisions? A mere increase in quantity does not automatically translate to better terms for seafarers.

Membership growth is commendable, but we must assess the impact on seafarers’ well-being.

What benefits have these additional members received? Has their quality of life improved? Membership numbers alone do not guarantee effective representation or improved working conditions.

While achievements are laudable, we need specifics. 

What specific welfare improvements have been made? Are seafarers receiving fair wages, proper rest periods, and adequate safety measures? Evidence of tangible improvements is crucial.

Acknowledging the Maritime Affiliate Support (MAS) project is positive, but let’s examine its impact.

How has MAS directly benefited seafarers? Are there measurable outcomes, such as reduced accidents, improved training, or enhanced working conditions? Concrete evidence is necessary.

Linking Maritime Affiliate Support (MAS) to National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) is promising, but we need substantiation.

How has MAS influenced NJIC negotiations? Has it resulted in better terms for seafarers within the NJIC framework? We should assess the actual impact.

Acknowledging challenges is essential, but we must explore solutions.

What steps has NMNOWTSSA taken to address this issue? Are there legal avenues to enforce CBAs with resistant manning agents? We need evidence of proactive measures.

While numerical growth and project initiatives are positive, the real impact lies in tangible improvements to seafarers’ lives. NMNOWTSSA must support their claims with evidence and legal frameworks to ensure meaningful progress in the seafaring fraternity

Do we even have up to 10,000 seafarers in Nigeria?

The claim of having 10,000 members in Nigeria is indeed a significant number. However, it’s essential to verify this assertion with accurate data.

We need to rely on credible sources, such as government records or industry reports, to validate the membership count. Without concrete evidence, the claim remains speculative.

Nigeria has a substantial coastline and maritime activities, including shipping, fishing, and offshore oil operations. However, estimating the exact number of seafarers requires comprehensive data collection.

Many seafarers work informally, making it challenging to track their numbers accurately. 

Some individuals may engage in maritime work part-time or combine it with other occupations, further complicating data collection.

Collaboration between the government, industry bodies, and unions is crucial for accurate data. Regular surveys, registration, and certification processes can help maintain an updated count.

Defining who qualifies as a “seafarer” matters. Are we including all maritime workers or only those with specific certifications?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) provides guidelines for seafarer data collection. Nigeria should align with these standards.

While the claim of 10,000 seafarers is ambitious, we need transparent data sources and collaboration to validate it. Accurate figures are essential for effective policy-making, welfare improvements, and industry development,” he posited.

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