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Friday, Aug 13, 2004

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Seamen threaten strike on PF issue

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Aug. 12

SEA-BORNE cargo movements to and from India may be affected with a section of seamen threatening to go on strike from August 31 to secure their demand for Government support to recoup the losses suffered by Seamen's Provident Fund (SPF).

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), one of the two seafarers unions, has served notices to the Union Government, and Indian and foreign shipping lines, informing its decision to launch direct action, said a union official.

Mr Abdul Gani, General Secretary, NUSI, told Business Line that the notices were sent to the Director-General of Shipping, the Indian National Shipowners Association, and FOSMA, MASA, two other organisations representing foreign shipping companies.

The SPF had suffered a loss of over Rs 92 crore in the `Home Trade' securities scam in 2002. Following the demand from seamen's unions, the NDA Government had worked out a scheme to bail out the troubled SPF. According to Mr Gani, the scheme was approved by the Shipping Ministry and was awaiting Cabinet approval when elections were announced. The new Government is yet to take up the issue, he said. "We have waited long enough. The money was lost because of negligence on the part of Government officials. If the Government can bail out the UTI, it should do so in the case SPF, which is a statutory fund," Mr Gani said.

The INSA Committee on crew matters today convened a meeting to assess the development, said a shipping company official.

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