India’s National Union of Seafarers (NUSI), on Sunday, said that they were putting ahead a proposal to the Indian Prime Minister’s Office for voting rights onboard ships, gratuity fund, and other welfare initiatives for Indian seafarers.
Praising the government’s efforts to repatriate its citizens stuck abroad, NUSI also said that the seafaring community has donated substantially to the PM Cares find and other welfare initiatives.
Ahead of 25th June-International Day of Seafarers, NUSI emphasized on the fact that Merchant Navy personnel were the second line of defence, assisting the nation during wartime and other natural calamities, keeping the country’s economy floating.
In the petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they pushed for voting rights for seafarers during the General and State Elections.
In addition to these, the NUSI has also proposed that the Government should provide “voting rights” to onboard seafarers during the General and state Assembly polls.
“If NRIs can vote, the procedures should be enacted to ensure that seafarers who are away on high seas can also vote during the state and national elections,” said Abdulgani Y Serang, General Secretary of NUSI.
However, they added that their interaction with the Election Commission on the voting issue wasn’t fruitful by any means.
Serang added that Indian seafarers already have a Statutory Provident Fund scheme passed in the Parliamentary bill of Seamens’ Provident Fund Act, 1966, which stated that gratuity has been enforced since June 1, 1964.
But, the ground reality is startlingly different. Not all seafarers get gratuity. It is paid for by shipowners, even though conventional legislation on the matter was never legislated, leaving it to collective bargaining.
“The Government should have it expedited,” the Union stated.
They also pushed for Contributory Annuity Fund Scheme (CAFS) which has been slandering in bureaucratic processes for nearly two decades now.
Lastly, at par with travel incentives enjoyed by the armed forces, the union pushed for flexibility in movements of seafarers, adding, “seafarers should be added to the priority list to make it easier for them to travel.”
Reference: National Union of Seafarers of India – NUSI – Facebook