Indian shipping industry awaits maritime labour law ratification
Much like mariners of yore waiting for monsoon winds to set sail, the Indian shipping industry awaits parliament's ratification of the International Maritime Labour Convention so as not to lose out on merchant traffic, according to industry leaders.
With India yet to ratify the International Labour Organization adopted (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)-2006, that provides for rights and safety standards for one million seafarers worldwide, Indian seafarers face inspections at international ports causing time and cost delays, as also affecting their employability.
The Indian shipping industry hopes parliament would accord its ratification to the convention during its ongoing monsoon session.
"When foreign flag vessels with Indian crew on board visit countries that have ratified MLC, they are exposed to stringent inspections," Captain Shiv Halbe, chairman of the Mumbai-based Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipping Companies/Agents (MASSA), told reporters here.
The larger losses would spring from Indians being less preferred for hiring than seafarers from countries complying with MLC-2006, he said.
"The non-ratification of MLC-2006 - which came into effect from Aug 20, 2013 - has also put Indian seafarers to great disadvantage as they are now not the primary choice of overseas shippers," Halbe added.
They contribute foreign exchange worth over USD 1.2 billion per annum to the country's exchequer.Currently around 110,000 Indian seafarers work in various positions aboard around 3,500 cargo vessels across the globe, MASSA said.
"Recruitment and placement services in India are now subjected to various stringent audits by the flag state of ships to which Indian seafarers are appointed. This reflects negatively on business development," said Ajay Achutan, director at the Maritime Training and Research Foundation.
Indian overseas trade is valued at USD 1,000 billion, of which an estimated 1pc is carried on Indian ships.
MASSA has recently written to Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on the matter and is hopeful that the new government will resolve the long pending issue.
"The government wants job creation and we are creating jobs. Parliament should not lose time to amend the Merchant Shipping Act to ratify MLC-2006 to bolster the growth of India's shipping industry," said M.P. Bhasin, managing director, MSC Crewing Services.
(Posted on 25-07-2014)