No market for Fiji registered ships

Vessels at the Muaiwalu Wharf in Suva. Picture: ANA MADIGIBULI

EVEN though Fiji is a member of the International Maritime Organization there is still no market for Fiji registered ships.

This was highlighted by Captain Sesoni Komaisoso a Master Class 1 (Australian Licence) holder and an executive member of the Fiji Maritime Workers Association.

“The challenge faced here is that there is no market for us, like now there is no Fiji registered ship sailing overseas,” Capt Sesoni said.

“We don’t have any ship sailing overseas that is registered in Fiji and another challenge is finding work on foreign going vessels.”

He was a member of a committee that helped with the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 framework.

“My dream is for all the stakeholders to try and help clean our back yard first, ratifying international convention is all right, but what are we doing with our local seafarers?

“The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is about the welfare of the crew, hygiene, working condition and other issues.

“They must be treated well in order to implement this MLC, all seafarers must join a union, so the union will negotiate on their behalf, in terms of salary, etc.

“They should have a working contract, a collective bargaining agreement where things like sick leave, maternity leave, overtime, working hours or salary and insurance are clearly stipulated.” He had a personal experience of talking with seafarers on board a local vessel servicing Lau.

“I sail to Lau most of the time on the local ships and I hear complaints from the seafarers about fixed salaries and how they work long hours,” he said.

“There is something called the rest period which clearly stipulates that every seafarer must have at least a minimum of 10 hours rest per day, but the last ship I travelled on a few days ago said they have been working from 2am until 10pm and there is no overtime paid and that is just unfair treatment on the workers.”

He said the working condition standards are very high for seafarers working overseas.

“It is sad to say that we are far behind and that is why I say that meeting all these regulations is all right, but the implementation is the most important thing especially these Maritime Labour Convention 2006 that will cover the welfare of the crew out at sea. My dream is to see that happen here and it should be easy here because Fiji is a small maritime nation,” he said.

He wishes that many doors will be open to younger seafarers in the future.

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