INDIA:_ Shipping body asks govt to ratify global convention

Bussiness Satandar

Read more on:    Parliament | National News
Jobs of about one lakh Indian seafarers, who contribute annually about USD 2 billion to national exchequer, would come under threat post August 19 following delays in ratifying a global convention, according to leading shipping body MASSA. "The Indian overseas trade is USD 1,000 billion. About 1 per cent of it - USD 10 billion, is carried on Indian ships. Non-ratification of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 by has adversely put Indian flag ships to a commercial disadvantage, hurting industry's growth," Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA) said. Currently about 1-1.2 lakh Indian seafarers work with 3,500 cargo ships across the globe and non-rectification of MLC would lead to stringent audit by the flag state of the ships in which Indian sea-farers are appointed, leading to their gradual non-recruitment, MASSA Chairman Capt Shiv Halbe today said, addressing the media here. "These seafarers contribute annually about USD 2 billion to national exchequer but non-ratification of MLC, pending before Parliament for a year now, would retard employment opportunities for Indian sea-farers," Halbe said urging the government to ensure ratification of convention in ongoing Parliament session by amending the Merchant Shipping Act. India is a signatory to MLC 2006 adopted by ILO that came into effect globally on August 20, 2013. Halbe said since norms were relaxed for a year, post August 19 Indian seafarers were going to face severe hardships. Seeking urgent intervention from Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, MASSA has asked for endorsement of "MLC 2006 through amendment in Merchant Shipping Act" for the welfare of the Indian seafarers, considered one of the most skilled globally. MLC 2006 provides for comprehensive rights and protection at work for over one million global seafarers and aims to achieve decent work for them and secure economic interests. According to information, Directorate General of Shipping has already requested the Shipping Ministry for the needful and the matter is pending with Parliament for last one year. If Parliament does not ratify the MLC, it will "jeopardise" shipping industry, adversely affecting a large segment of ancillary business, not to mention livelihood of seafarers, MASSA said in a letter to Gadkari. "The non-rectification of MLC by Parliament could prove costly for Indian seafarers working on foreign flag vessels as well. The agencies are then required to undergo an audit and approval by the flag state of ships to which our seafarers are being appointed. This not only adds to operation expenses but also reflects negatively on business development," it said. MASSA added, "Will the powers that be at the Centre recognise the jeopardy they are putting our seafarers and ships to by not accepting and reacting to globalised nature of their jobs. Parliament should not lose time but amend Merchant Shipping Act to ratify MLC in current session.