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SEAMEN'S EMPLOYMENT OFFICES AND FUNCTIONS.

SEAMEN'S EMPLOYMENT OFFICES

CHAPTER 20
  • The Government of India have set up Seamen's employment offices in Mumbai and Calcutta, the major ports for regulating recruitment of seamen in India, in march 1954 and January 1955 respectively. Although the Seamen's Employment Scheme was originally intended to cover the employment of Indian seamen only on foreign going ships, it was extended later to Home Trade seamen at Mumbai in the year 1957 and in Calcutta in the year 1960.

  • The main functions of Seamen's Employment Offices are:-

    (a) Laying down, streamlining the procedure for recruitment of seamen and ensuring procedures thereon.
    (b) Equitable distribution of available volume of employment among the effective seamen on principles of:
     

      i. Rotation according to the date of last dischargeii. Reasonable choice to shipowners in the selection of their crew.iii..Reasonable freedom to seamen to refuse a particular ship for particular reason so that:-
      a) seafarer has a direct approach to his job and retain all his rightful dues; b)  A shipowners  gets the right man for the job;iv. to attend to matters relating to promotion of seamen or charge of their categories;v. to maintain registers of seamen in respect of various categories prescribed under the rules;vi. to process the registration of seamen and issue of registration books andvii. to attend to cancellation of registration of seamen on the following grounds;

  • a) Retirement on attaining the age of superannuation (60) years or voluntary retirement on attaining 50 years of age;
  • b) On being declared permanently unfit or seamen's own request;
  • c) Death;
  • d) Disciplinary grounds - as recommended by the Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the S.E.B.
    • No charge is being levied by the Seamen's Employment Office for doing the service in regard to the supply of seamen either on the seamen or on the shipowners.

    • There is a Seamen's Employment board at the port of Mumbai and Calcutta. The Seamen's Employment Board at Mumbai is headed by the Director General of shipping, while at Calcutta it is headed by the Principal Officer, Mercantile marine Department, Calcutta. Besides the Government nominees the shipowners and seafarers are the members of the Seamen's Employment Board. This is a policy making body relating to the seamen's employment Offices and gives direction for the smooth functioning of these offices. It prescribes guidelines for compassionate appointment of seamen, procedure regarding recruitment and selection of seamen, prescribing education and age criteria for entering into seafaring profession etc.

    • The conditions of service including level of wages for different categories of seamen are negotiated between the shipowners wanting to engage Indian seamen in accordance with M.S. Act and Unions of seamen bilaterally under the umbrella of National Maritime Board which consists of representatives of Shipowners and seafarers. One of the important features of the agreement is that the companies having company roster should implement decasualisation scheme under which the seamen on their roster will retain their work force and there would be a system of payment not only on board ships but even during leave period ashore at specified rate which amount to the seamen being paid through out by their respective companies themselves. The existing National Maritime Board Agreement governing the interest of shipowners and seafarers specify that the companies who maintain the company roster should necessarily opt for the above said scheme which is otherwise called Retainer Scheme. During the period under report the Government after examining all the aspects involved therein approved continuation of the Retainer Scheme until further orders.

    • Retainer Scheme:

    • The conditions of service including level of wages for different categories of seamen are negotiated between the shipowners and the Unions of the Seafarers' bilaterally under the umbrella of National Maritime Board, which consists of representatives of both sides. The agreement is entered into every two years. The agreement concluded in April 1990 stipulated that those Companies having company rosters would implement decasualisation scheme under which seamen on their rosters will remain in the work force of the respective companies and there would be a system of payment not only on board ships but even during leave period ashore at specified rates, which amounts to the seamen being paid through out by the companies.

    • The decasualisation system or the retainer scheme as it is known was discussed in the 52nd meeting of the Seamen's Employment Board (Foreign Going), Bombay which strongly recommended that the D G Shipping may issue statuary orders invoking provisions of Section 456 of the M.S. Act, 1958 to exempt company roster seamen from the specific provisions of the M.S. (Seamen's Employment Offices) Rules, 1986 subject to fulfillment of some conditions.

    • Taking all the above circumstances into account, D G Shipping accepted the recommendation of the Board and issued SEO Order No. 32, dated 12.11.1992 exempting some Shipping companies having their roster from going through the SEO for selection and recruitment of crew for a period of one year. Later on the Ministry of Surface Transport has granted permission for continuation of the Retainer Scheme until further orders. There is a proposal to amend Section 95(2), which provided that the seamen should be supplied by Seamen's Employment Office. The amendment of the Section would give the statuary backing to the retainer scheme or decasualisation scheme.

    • With the introduction of decasualisation scheme the Shipping Companies or group of Shipping Companies who are having their company rosters of seamen would be monitoring the system of sending calls to the seamen for selection, making the selection and preparing a list of selected seamen for placing on board ship which hitherto was required to be done by the Seamen's Employment Offices. 


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