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Union demands Indian CDCs for experienced seafarers
12 March 2013
The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has demanded the issuing of Indian seafarers’ documents (CDCs) and is urging the Indian government to issue CDCs for all Indian seafarers working on cruise or merchant foreign flag ships.
The majority of Indian seafarers work on foreign flag ships so their eligibility for future employment needs to be ensured. Currently thousands have CDCs from other countries, including Liberia and the Bahamas, which means they face hardship and logistical problems from immigration authorities, particularly in the Gulf, when they wish to transit to leave or join their vessels.
Many seafarers informed a recent seminar organised by NUSI, the ITF, the Italian Transport Workers’ Federation (FIT-CISL) and the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union (NSU) on cruise ships in India of their unsuccessful attempts to acquire Indian CDCs and the problems they face without them.
With the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 coming into force in August 2013, NUSI is concerned that Indian seafarers without Indian CDCs will find it difficult to get employment on foreign flag ships.
On 25 February NUSI wrote to the Indian government’s director general of shipping, requesting an immediate meeting to discuss revising the rules for issuing Indian CDCs. Under current rules, seafarers working on cruise liners are subject to eligibility criteria including citizenship, educational and technical qualifications, age, training and medical fitness requirements and, in some cases, experience requirements - all of which have to be satisfied by an applicant for the issue of a CDC.
Abdulgani Serang, NUSI general secretary-cum-treasurer, said: “Indian seafarers working on cruise or merchant navy ships without Indian CDCs face many problems. With the MLC coming into force foreign shipowners may also look for alternatives as they have options to choose seafarers of other nationalities. Therefore, to safeguard the interests of the Indian seafarers the government of India must provide them with Indian CDCs. This is of paramount importance to Indian seafarers to facilitate their easy professional movement across countries to join vessels or to return to their home countries on signing off.”
Johan Oyen, NSU director of cruise operations and chair of the ITF cruise ship task force, commented: “This is hopefully the end of the old ‘passport’ system so much spoken about by the late Dr Leo Barns (former NUSI leader). And the credit should therefore be given to him and the current leadership of NUSI.”
ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton described it as “excellent news”.
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