15 January 2013

Kenya: Shippers Unite for Better Pay

TWO major maritime players have signed an agreement to fight against the exploitation of Kenyans by international shipping companies and agents.

The deal by the Kenya Seafarers Union and the Kenya Ship Contractors Association will help lobby for better payments for seafarers and shipping contractors.

Speaking to the press after signing the agreement in Mombasa yesterday, SUK secretary general Andrew Mwangura said the opartnership will fight for improved working conditions in the maritime industry.

"This agreement binds us to fight with one accord for the rights of the people working in this sector," he said.Mwangura said Kenyan seafarers are paid less salaries compared to their colleagues in other countries.

The employees are paid in shillings instead of the international standard rate that uses the American dollar.Fredrick Ochieng, the KSCA secretary general said they are forced to pay a lot of money to operate at the port yet they get less returns.

"We pay Sh28,000 to operate in the port, Sh15,000 for insurance cover and Sh25,000 for a municipal council license yet we only get Sh2, 000 per day for a group of five people," Ochieng said.

Ochieng complained that the Sh2,000 earned pays the salaries of four employees.He said the Kenya Port Authority charges international shipping lines Sh64,000 but only gives contractors Sh2,000 per day.

"We want a situation where the contractor and the workers do not feel exploited. This will attract more people to work in this sector," he said.

KSCA is made up of companies which work in cleaning, wiring, painting and fishing in the shipping lines at the KPA.

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