Threaten to shut down NUSI-managed Seafarers’ Academy at Sucaldem
MARGAO: Goa Seamen Association of India (GSAI) on Wednesday held a dharna at Lohia Maidan, Margao to protest the cancellation of the monthly ex-gratia paid to retired seamen and threatened to shut down the Seafarers’ Academy managed by National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) at Sucaldem, Chinchinim.
Rejecting the offer to accept a lump sum payment of Rs 12,500 in lieu of the monthly payment of Rs 200 as ex-gratia payment, the seafarers demanded that they be paid a lump sum amount of Rs 5 lakh or the monthly payment be increased to Rs 5,000.
GSAI spokesman Dixon Vaz said the ship owners regularly contribute to the Seafarers’ Welfare Fund Society through NUSI and added that a token amount is deducted from the salaries of the seafarers by the ship owners to contribute towards the society. He said an amount of Rs 4 crore was pending with NUSI as unclaimed Provident Fund, which was to be paid to retired seafarers.
“NUSI receives thousands of dollars every year and proper accounts of this amount is not given,” he claimed adding that even the figures quoted in the letter sent to the seafarers announcing the decision to cancel the monthly ex-gratia has “inflated” figures.
“Around six years ago, we were told that the ex-gratia is given to only around 6000 seafarers and now in the letter it is claimed that it is paid to 19,200 seafarers and 7,300 widows of seafarers, which is obviously an “inflated” figure,” he claimed.
Dixon refuted the allegation that the monthly ex-gratia monetary assistance is given to only a fraction of the seafarers, who had travelled on international vessels and added that even those sailing on Indian vessels get this benefit.
Incidentally, the Monthly Ex-gratia Monetary Assistance (MEMA) was started in 1978 under which every month Rs 200 is paid to retired seafarer and Rs 400 is paid to his dependent widow.
Although the letter mentions that MEMA is being cancelled to make way for schemes “that will be for the welfare of all Indian seafarers and not just one category,” Dixon claimed that they have not been taken into confidence on the new schemes planned or proposed.
He pointed out that 10 dollars are deducted from the earnings of those working on the cruise liners, which is sent to NUSI to provide facilities such as hospital and holiday homes for seafarers. “The Hospital at Cuncolim has closed and the holiday homes at Margao and Lonavala are not available for Goan seafarers,” Dixon lamented.
Demanding a probe against Abdul Ghani Sarang, who manages NUSI, Dixon said the organisation will close down the NUSI academy at Chinchinim if the cancellation of MEMA is not withdrawn within three months.