MARGAO: A section of seafarers in Goa has complained of facing difficulties in getting the requisite clearances from the Directorate General of Shipping, which would help in getting their jobs back or seek new employment opportunities in the shipping industry.
The seafarers, who are “stranded” in the State, said this is not just a Goa-centric issue as it has affected seamen from other parts of the country as well.
They appealed to DG Shipping to offer them some relief on sympathetic grounds.
It is pertinent to note that these seafarers have been stuck at home for nearly two years. Due to the pandemic, jobs have dried up and the number of unemployed seafarers has increased substantially. The seas have opened again and the shipping industry is picking up as more jobs are available for which these seafarers are not able to apply.
Furthermore, the seafarers fear that they may lose their jobs to seamen of other nationalities.
They said it’s quite tough to get a job these days on account of the increasing number of people applying from across the globe.
Moreover, the process of applying for these jobs has become more complicated and time consuming due to COVID-related precautions.
They said if DG Shipping grants them the mandatory Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC), it will help them as there are other formalities too.
CDC is a seafarer's identity document issued by the country, which certifies that the person holding this document is a seaman as per the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
“Most shipping companies have started insisting on Indian CDC as a mandatory document, whereas even for visa application or visa renewals, CDC is considered and to renew some of the STCW courses,” said Frank Viegas, president of Goa Seamen Association of India (GSAI).
A section of seafarers from the State have been debarred from applying for the Indian CDC due to certain technical reasons following a circular issued by DG Shipping.
“They have to wait for one more year, and given that they have been jobless for almost two years due to COVID-19 pandemic, they are concerned as it is a matter of their livelihood and careers,” said Viegas.
The GSAI president acknowledged that DG
Shipping had provided various relaxations to the seafarers in the past.
“However, this time, DG Shipping has turned down GSAI’s repeated requests for withdrawal of its order (Circular), which would provide more relaxation to the affected seafarers. ” he said.
“GSAI had also made another representation to Union Minister of State (MoS) Shripad Naik to do the needful in November 2020,” Viegas added.
Stating that a year has passed and the status quo has remained the same, GSAI said they will continue with their efforts to ensure that the jobs of seafarers, who have been out for long, are still secure.
“You have to take into account that many of the affected seafarers are those who have lots of experience. Some have worked for 15-20 years and can get jobs but the CDC is preventing them. They are used to going back onboard their respective ships after a short period,” Viegas said.
The affected seafarers rued that these developments have not only caused a financial burden but also mental agony as they have to look for alternate ways to support their families.