13 September 2017

Seychelles: Dock Workers At Seychellois Company Strike Over Pay, Benefits

A group of workers in Seychelles demanding better working conditions and an increase in pay from a local company offering stevedoring services -- unloading cargo at a dock -- has been on strike since Saturday.

Stevedores of Hunt Deltel, a commercial fishing agency, stopped working on Saturday. One striking worker, Steven Jerry, told SNA on Tuesday that the workers are asking the company to improve their welfare and pay as per the amount of fish they are unloading on the fishing vessel.

The group is also asking for extra compensations for all the years they have been working for Hunt Deltel. They are also requesting allowances for working on Sundays, improved communications between supervisors and foreman, payment for fish transshipped from fishing vessel to the port, an audit of their pension contributions, more workers on bigger boats and clear structure for payment of bonuses and lesser taxes.

Negotiations with the local company started on Saturday, but Hunt Deltel said Monday the talks have already broken down.

"The company agreed on Sunday to give 3.50 rupees ($ 0.25) instead of 2.65 per tonnage, but we are asking for 5 rupees ($0.30) if they want us to go back to work," said Jerry.

Another local company that provides stevedoring services in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is Land Marine.

Nigel Felix, a worker of Land Marine, told SNA that their conditions are better.

"We get 10,000 rupees ($730) bonus every year, but at Hunt Deltel, the workers barely get anything," Felix said, and added that the "rate for payment goes up as tonnage increases, but the same could not be said for Hunt Deltel as they have a fix paying rate."

Stevedoring is an occupation which involves loading and unloading of cargo on ships, as well as all the logistics and administrative work associated with this which makes stevedores key players in ensuring that ships get back on their journey and minimise costly port time as much as possible.

This means that workers on strike will affect the loading and unloading of cargo ships and the longer the ships are alongside a port, the more money they cost their owners.

Hunt Deltel said in a statement Monday that all attempts at negotiations have come to a stop. The company said it "is disappointed to note that casual workers in the port have again refused to work and have not honoured the agreement signed between the management of Hunt Deltel and their chosen representatives."

Meanwhile, Jerry said that the group on strike is not aware if there is any agreement signed between their representatives and the management of the company.

The principal secretary of the ministry of employment, Jules Baker, said that negotiations are slowly starting again to reach an agreement between the company and the stevedores.

Baker said that all the aggrieved workers are expected to return to work on Wednesday.

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