When the voice of welfare resounds in Parliament, sailors salute

August 04, 2022 | 07:25 IST

When the voice of welfare resounds in Parliament, sailors salute

Sailors salute MP Luizinho Faleiro for highlighting their contributions to the economy of the country and the world during the pandemic

Team Herald

MARGAO: With MP for Rajya Sabha (MP) Luizinho Faleiro raising the issue of the Center stopping the gratis scheme of Rs 200 per month for retired seafarers and their widows, many seafarers in Goa have agreed that the amount itself was a pittance and agreed to Faleiro’s request to increase the amount or come up with a better system.

“Seafarers in Goa and all over India need a better pension after retirement. What the Goans get comes from the state government, but it is very little,” said GSAI Founder Dixon Vaz.

He said it needed to be increased. “However, on the whole, for Indian seafarers, the Indian government, the Merchant Marine Department and the Director General of Merchant Marine must all step up their efforts to protect seafarers’ rights,” said Dixon Vaz, founder of the Goa Seamen Association of India (GSAI).

“Today, the sailor is retired at 60 or 55 if he is medically unfit. If he dies at sea, the whole family collapses. Their future must be assured. They need medical help and their families need help,” he added.

The seafarer community also appreciated that Faleiro spoke about their contributions to the country’s economy and the world during the Covid pandemic.

“This is a national level issue affecting seafarers across India. I call on the Department of Merchant Marine to pay attention to this and ensure that our seafarers get a better pension that can support them during their retirement life,” said Frank Viegas, Chairman of the GSAI.

Viegas also pointed out that their association challenged the Union government’s decision in the High Court to stop the ex gratia amount and try to give a one-time settlement of Rs 12,500.

“We are fighting this case on behalf of retired seafarers and have argued that this single settlement should have been at least Rs 1 lakh,” he added.

Other seafarers also spoke about the current employment crisis at sea.

“After Covid the industry is yet to return to what it was before and this has impacted jobs, particularly among senior seafarers who are not considered for jobs in place of seafarers younger and more inexperienced. They have to be protected through a pension scheme after retirement and it has to be more than 200 rupees a month because no one can survive on that for a month,” said Ryan Gonsalves, a retired sailor.

“It is important that this issue has been raised in Parliament otherwise the Union Merchant Marine Minister and the Director General of Merchant Marine do not care about us. There should be better policies in place to the welfare of seafarers, particularly once they are retired, but also in situations of medical emergencies or, even worse, death at sea,” added Sanket Naik, a retired seafarer .

GSAI Secretary Michael Beny further urged Faleiro to ensure that this matter is followed up with the Ministry of Merchant Marine so that this matter is taken to its logical conclusion.

Goa sailors find real voice in parliament as Luizinho speaks for them

‘Too bad’ there is no system to provide pension to sailors, informs Luizinho of RS

MARGAO: Highlighting the plight of Goa seafarers in the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha MP Luizinho Faleiro on Wednesday urged the Union Shipping Ministry to address the pension-related issues facing seafarers retirees and their families in Goa.

Addressing the President of Rajya Sabha, Venkaiah Naidu, the Congressman for Trinamool first described how Goa hosts a large population of the seafarer community, which he said has made a rich contribution to the shipping industry over the years.

“In fact, it wouldn’t be out of place to mention that in some areas of the state, one would encounter all the alternative houses belonging to the seafaring community,” Faleiro added.

“I am very happy to say that the seafarer community in Goa has made a very immense contribution, not only to the economy of Goa but to the economy of the country, through foreign remittances, which is very valuable to the country. During Covid-19, we are proud that seafarers in Goa have played a stellar role during the pandemic, providing outstanding service in ensuring the movement of goods and cargo across the globe,” he added.

He said he was saddened that despite all this, the condition of seafarers is very bad due to the general economic collapse, due to which unemployment is rampant.

He lamented that there was virtually no system to give them a pension and didn’t mince words when he called it a “shame”.

“Unfortunately, after working hard for years and staying away from loved ones during the voyage, seafarers are an overlooked lot. They do not benefit from benefit plans, such as the pension plan. The program as gracious scheme funded by the Welfare Society, which provided a paltry sum of Rs.200 per month to retired seafarers and seafarers’ widows all these years, no longer exists,” Faleiro said.

The former chief minister pointed out that the Goa government had introduced a pension scheme for retired seafarers and widows, but he observed that the scheme had been implemented halfheartedly, leaving seafarers in embarrassment.

He reiterated that sailors in their retirement life certainly deserve a better deal

“Therefore, I pray that the Navy Department will either revise the ex gratia relief with an increased amount, or come up with a new pension scheme to bring solace and relief to retired sailors and widows, so that sailors and their families can live a life of honor and dignity for having contributed so immensely to the economy of this country,” Faleiro added.