Seafarers recruitment and manning agents to undergo annual performance grading

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on November 23, 2020

Move aimed at reforming the monitoring process of hiring agents and quality improvements

The Directorate General of Shipping (DG Shipping) will conduct an annual comprehensive inspection programme of the approved Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers License (RPSL) holders to improve the quality of maritime education, training and recruitment to maintain India’s stature as a top supplier of crew to global shipping.

The inspection programme for recruitment and manning agents is designed to grade their performance through an external agency, similar to the one introduced for maritime training institutes in 2015.

The inspection programme will be carried out by one of the eight ship classification societies authorised by the DG Shipping — the Indian Register of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd, Bureau Veritas, American Bureau of Shipping, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Korean Register of Shipping. RINA Services S P A and DNV GL A S.

There are some 412 DG Shipping approved RPSL agents and their CIP has to be completed by May.

On a review of the existing monitoring process, the DG Shipping felt that the system of inspection of RPSL agencies needed qualitative improvement, the DG Shipping has said.

“Accordingly, the Directorate General of Shipping has developed the comprehensive inspection program for RPSL, which shall be conducted once in a year to grade the performance of RPSL instead of the existing initial, annual, renewal inspections of RPSL,” the country’s maritime administration said in a November 20 notice.

The DG Shipping’s move has come under attack from some recruitment and manning agents.

“A failed idea is being implemented by the DG Shipping,” said Sanjay Prashar, managing director at VR Maritime Services Pvt Ltd, a ship management and crewing company.

“Just more rules”

RPSL agencies will now undergo a comprehensive inspection programme that has some 70 criteria to grade as A, B, C and D. “We want jobs and DG Shipping is busy making more rules. Has RPSL failed?” he asked.

Since 2015, some 225 CIP has been undertaken for maritime training institutes with 125 been given A1 grading.

“Where is the placement record by maritime training institutes. If the CIP is good, where are jobs for freshers who pass out of the training institutes approved by the D G Shipping,” Prashar, a member on the National Shipping Board, asked.

Acting on complaints that seafarers were forced to pay money to RPSL agents and shipping companies for getting employment on board merchant ships, the DG Shipping has issued a circular in February this year seeking to end such unlawful practices.

It asked Indian ship owning companies and RPSL agents to display a notice at a prominent place on their premises warning that “Section 97 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 prohibits demand of any remuneration directly or indirectly from the seafarers for providing employment”.

Published on November 23, 2020

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