Seafarers Employment Programme

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One of the functions of the GMA is to ensure the engagement and welfare of Ghanaian seafarers. In pursuance of this mandate the GMA has initiated a Seafarer Employment Programme designed to promote the employment of Ghanaian seafarers onboard all ships, particularly foreign ones. To further improve this mandate, the GMA has recently signed a bilateral agreement with the Danish Maritime Authority to open up the immence Seafaring opportunities to Ghanaian Seafarer, and to further reduce unemployment and other challenges facing the Local Seafarers.

 Measures taken to ensure Seafarer Employment includes: 

  • A developed strategic framework document in collaboration with the Ministries of Transport, Employment and Social Welfare and with partnership support from the United Nations Development programme (UNDP).
  • Prepared draft regulations for ship manning agencies in a bid to fulfil the requirements of section 107(2) of the Ghana Shipping Act, 2003 (Act 645) which provides for the establishment of a licensing regime for seafarer recruitment agencies. The draft regulations has been finalised by the Attorney-General’s Department and is expected to be submitted to Parliament for passage in 2012.
  • An independent evaluation of the Quality Management System (QMS) of the Authority has been carried out by SGS Systems and ISO Certification processes are currently on-going. This will give assurance to ship owners about the standards of competence of Ghanaian seafarers.
  • Submitted itself for voluntary audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) a decentralised body of the European Union responsible for the implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety to confirm the GMA’s compliance with the requirements of the International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). Under the STCW countries have to enter into bilateral arrangements for the recognition of seafarer certificates of competency before employing such seafarers to work on their flag vessels. In line with the STCW Convention Ghana has signed MOU’S with the major ship owning countries which allows for Ghanaian seafarers to be employed on their flag ships.

However, with regard to vessels owned by European Union member states, Directive No. 2008/106/EC requires that countries desirous of entering into an MOU with EU member states for recognition of seafarer certificates must first submit their training and certification systems to assessment by EMSA to attest their compliance with the STCW Convention. In 2009, EMSA inspectors visited the GMA and commenced the assessment of the training and standards of competence of Ghanaian seafarers as well as the certification processes. There were series of correspondence between the EU and the GMA in respect of which some queries raised by the inspectors on information provided by the GMA were addressed.

Recent communication from the EU indicated that the assessment by the EMSA inspectors of the GMA’s compliance with the STCW Convention and the evaluation of the information provided demonstrates that the GMA has fully complied with the requirements of the convention. Consequently, the EU has formally communicated its decision to recognise seafarer certificates of competency issued by the GMA.

The EU recognition of Ghanaian certificates of competency is significant as it opens a huge market window for Ghanaian seafarers to obtain shipboard employment.

It is worth noting that Europe control about half of the world's shipping tonnage and therefore the success of the EMSA audit and the EU recognition will create a tremendous opportunity for engaging seafarers on board flag ships of all the 27 member countries of the EU.

The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) includes the recognition of seafarer certificates with major ship owning countries (such as Panama, Liberia, Bahamas, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Singapore, Cyprus, Singapore, Ethiopia, etc.) to facilitate the employment of Ghanaian seafarers on board their flag vessels.

  • Sponsored trips to London by the seafarer unions, namely, the Ghana Merchant Navy Officers Association and the National Union of Seamen and supported by staff of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and the GMA to negotiate with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) which resulted in the signing of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for Ghanaian seafarers. The ITF’s policy is against wage discrimination and has invariably guided against shipowners taken advantage of seafarers from developing countries by paying them low wages. The CBA addresses issues relating to employment and welfare including shipowners’ responsibilities on health and safety and provide the international minimum wage level for Ghanaian seafarers on the international maritime labour market. In effect the CBA provides certainty and gives incentives to shipowners to employ seafarers from Ghana thereby creating a wider window for shipboard employment for Ghanaian seafarers.
  • Created a seafarer’s databank to provide information on Ghanaian seafarers and to make statistics available to shipowners or potential employers about the number of Ghanaian seafarers in the various categories of engineer officers, deck officers and ratings

 

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