Govt lens on maritime recruitment agents

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After targeting maritime training institutes, faculty and seafarers over quality issues, India’s maritime administration is now looking to rein in recruitment and manning agents by grading their performance through an external agency.

The Directorate General of Shipping (DG Shipping) plans to conduct an annual Comprehensive Inspection Programme (CIP) of the approved Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers License (RPSL) holders by one of the eight ship classification societies authorised by it. These include the Indian Register of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd, and Bureau Veritas. “The aim is to safeguard the interests of seafarers,” said a government official briefed on the plan. “It will also help seafarers evaluate the credibility of the RPSL agents during the hiring process,” he added.

The official said, “There are many Indian seafarers who are in jail outside India, many are stranded, many are not being paid and awaiting their repatriation. We want to analyse RPSL holders who have obtained licence for running the business and the kind of business they are pursuing. If those things are available, it will help us in making a policy.”

The CIP will look into the manning agreement between the RPSL holders, ship owners and ship managers, non-conformity between Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) and the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The inspections will judge the quality of the fleet under RPSL by evaluating the ship’s age, area of operation, performance under various memorandum of understanding, record of compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and insurance certificates. The CIP will assess the quality of seafarers employed by RPSL by analysing their general qualification, courses completed, wage level and employment to women seafarers.

Checking up on seafarers

Such inspections will check evidence for ensuring that the ship owner has the means to protect seafarers from being stranded/abandoned in a port, provisions for their repatriation along with maintenance and emergency medical assistance prior to repatriation and the transportation of the mortal remains of a seafarer in the event of his death.

Besides, the CIP will check whether the RPSL holders are maintaining an up-to-date list of ships owned by the ship owners for whom they supply seafarers and ensure there are reasonable means by which the ships can be contacted during emergency, perseverance of RPSL/ship owners in dealing with death, injury, missing cases of seafarers and grievances.

The inspections will also scrutinise the management system put in place by RPSL to check on a monthly basis the welfare of seafarers employed by it including regular payment of salary, update of insurance, regular repatriation, standard operating procedures to deal with cases of abandonment, non-payment of wages and disputes.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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