Indian seafarers are getting their long-standing demand fulfilled this year as the government has assured them of provident fund, gratuity, and pension benefits. After a long battle, Santa came bearing gifts in the form of these benefits which was approved by the government on Monday.
Benefits Extended To Foreign Flagged Ship Crew
Earlier on Monday, the Indian government declared that around 4 lakhs of Indian seafarers serving across different ranks onboard different Indian and foreign-flagged vessels will be getting provident fund, gratuity, and pension benefits from now onwards.
As per a statement given by the general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), Abdulgani Serang, the Director-General of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar who also heads the Board of Trustees of the Seamens’ Provident Fund agreed to fulfill the long-standing demand to extend the said benefits to all merchant navy seafarers.
However, the seafarers’ provident fund falls under the jurisdiction of the government, the gratuity, pension, and other benefits are subjected to the fulfillment of a bilateral arrangement between NUSI and the shipowners governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement or wage agreement for seafarers.
Relief After 2 Decades of Struggle
Serang reiterated their commitment to seafarers’ welfare highlighting their 20 years of struggle to get this approved.
“For nearly two decades, NUSI has been demanding the benefits of provident fund, gratuity, and pension to become statute for all ranks of seafarers- officers, petty officers, ratings, others serving on both Indian and foreign-flagged ships”.
The most recent effort for this approval happens to be 25000 seafarers signed a petition to the Prime Minister during the covid pandemic last year.
Seafarers Happy With the Approval
NUSI said that the seafarers are quite happy to get these benefits as they can work peacefully without worrying about their families’ welfare now. This will take care of their families when they are working on the ships, Serang added.
Until now Indian seafarers working on Indian flagged ships were getting PF as per the 1966 Seamens’ Provident Fund Act which excludes foreign-flagged vessels. Thus the shipping fraternity has been fighting to make these benefits all-inclusive, including the crew of foreign-flagged ships.
Government To Amend Seamen’s Act
According to a statement issued by Serang, the government is moving towards amending the said Act to facilitate the changes approved by the Board of Trustees of the Seamens’ Provident Fund.