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Seafarers to Earn Good Pay as Kenya Gazettes Maritime Wage Council

Seafarers to Earn Good Pay as Kenya Gazettes Maritime Wage Council

October 8, 2021
A ship docking at the Port in Lamu. Seafarers are set to earn good wages after the Kenyan government gazetted the Maritime Wage Council, which will lead to standardisation of their pay. Photo: KPA.

Kenya has gazetted the Maritime Wage Council under the Labour Institutions Act, 2007 paving the way for better compensation for seafarers.

The government is aiming at resolving the current disparity in wages of Kenyan seafarers and those from other countries who have an established wage standard to ensure that they receive fair pay on services that they render.

Maritime expert Andrew Mwangura said the establishment of the maritime wage standards for seafarers is a milestone towards better employment conditions.

“The forgotten Kenyan seafarers for many years have been underpaid or abandoned by rogue ship owners in the foreign land far away from home. They have also suffered from social dumping caused by Mombasa-based shipping companies,” said Mr Mwangura.

Mr Mwangura said shipping companies in Mombasa have continued to hire immigrants at horrible wage rates, a clever tactic to evade the local labor laws and prop up their profit margins.

“The proposed seamen wage regulation order should focus on matters regarding to minimum wage standards, the Order should also regulate other working conditions for specific categories of seafarers including vacation leave, sick leave and special leave,” he said.

Kenya’s Principal Secretary in charge of the State Department of Shipping and Maritime Affairs Nancy Karigithu said the government is keenly following up on the development of a Wage Standard for the seafarers to ensure they are competitively remunerated, to encourage new entrants to the seafaring profession.

The Constitution of the Wage Council was gazetted last week by the State Department of Labour to implement the remuneration of seafarers.

The standard wage will enable Kenya to meet its obligations under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 of minimum working and living standards for all seafarers on ships, and will further set fair competition and a level-playing field for owners of ships flying the flags of countries that have ratified the Convention.

The government of Kenya has since championed the ratification of key maritime conventions that will improve the safety and welfare of seafarers.

The government has also prioritised seafarers in receiving Covid-19 vaccines since they are essential workers. The government is also exploring ways of ensuring their access to medical services when the industry is under sharp focus by the health authorities.

“One measure under consideration is to establish a medical clinic for seafarers at the Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) to cater to the unique needs of seafarers,” Ms Karigithu said.