Seychelles: Seychellois Seamen Receive Backdated Pay From Time On EU Vessels

Forty-two Seychellois seamen who worked on European Union fishing vessels have received backdated payment from an adjustment in their salaries, a top official of the Seychelles Fisheries Authority said.

The payments will be paid to around 45 seamen who worked on EU vessels January 18, 2014 to January 17, 2020 and around 100 seamen who worked prior to 2005.

In 2005, a provision was made for those seamen to be paid a minimum salary on the standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or international standard, but this did not happen and seamen were still paid the minimum wage.

A team from the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) started scrutinising the dossiers relating to activities of the EU's fleets in Seychelles, in answer to efforts from a group of those affected, the chief executive Cyril Bonnelame told SNA.

A thorough investigation found that the local seamen had not been paid in line with the existing ILO Protocol governing their activity.

The payment of varying amounts some even totalling SCR200,000 ($11,388) will be made in three different phases and the first begun on Monday.

Bonnelame told SNA that by Tuesday late afternoon 42 former and current seamen had received their payment.

"There were around six of them whom we were unable to get in touch with. It is possible they have changed their addresses or contact number, or they may have moved out of the country, but we will continue to work on getting in touch with them or their relatives," he said.

A jubilant Phillip Jacques spoke of his joy that finally he will receive the backdated adjustment of the salary he should have been earning while working as a seaman on board the EU tuna fishing fleets operating in the Seychelles.

"I think it is very good because in the past we were subjected to a lot of unfair treatment. In the past, the government did nothing about it to help us get our rightful pay and now it has recognised it and is paying us our dues," he told SNA.

Jacques, who worked from 1988 to 2016, said he always felt aggrieved by the disparity in the amount the Seychellois earned compared to what others were earning. He said they complained many times to the authorities but nothing came out of it.

The second phase of payment will cover seamen who worked before 2005 when the first ILO protocol came into force and they will be paid by the SFA.

"We are waiting for the European Union to give us the pertinent details and documents pertaining to those who worked on the fishing fleets between 2005 and 2014, which was the time span of the first ILO Protocol," said Bonnelame.

He explained that the payment to be made by the government for pre-2005, will be based on the rate of the dollar at the time, whereas those from 2005 onward will be done by the EU and calculated at the current dollar rate. Some seamen will be paid in two instalments as their employment dates spread over two phases of the ILO protocol.

A representative of the group fighting for the sailors to get their dues, Joalesce Louise, is encouraging all sailors in that category to come forward.

"I have asked them all to come and claim their backdated salary adjustment. Some sailors have been paid 27,000 rupees for just two years adjustment, so please come forward."

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