Shipping Corp seafarers agitate over pay

Seafarers on hunger strike as SCI fails to implement wage hike, disbursement of arrears
Around 200 seafarers with Shipping Corporation of India, the country's largest shipping company, are on a hunger strike since Saturday over wages and arrears.

According to the National Maritime Board (India) agreement that concluded in March 2015, Shipping Corporation was required to raise wages of its seafarers by about 30 per cent. However, the company has not revised wages for over a year.

The National Maritime Board agreement is applicable for petty officers working on foreign-bound, home trade and offshore vessels of Indian flag.

Shipping Corporation has a fleet of 69 vessels, mainly tankers and bulk carriers.

"Arrears have not been paid for over a year now. Neither have wages been revised. Seafarers on 16 vessels of Shipping Corporation have gone on a hunger strike," said Abdulgani Y Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India. "If the company does not implement the wage hike, we will look at intensifying the agitation," he said. “The agitation is likely to spread to other vessels,” he added.

Shipping Corporation has 2,500 seafarers. If more join the agitation, the country's merchandise trade could be affected, experts said.

"Other member lines of the Indian National Shipowners Association have revised wages, why not Shipping Corporation? It is binding on the company," Serang pointed out. The company had at a board meeting on May 26 discussed the wage issue but seafarers had not heard from the company at all, he added.

In 2014-15, Shipping Corporation reported a profit after a gap of three years. In 2015-16, the company reported a net profit of Rs 377 crore, up 87 per cent from a year ago.

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