November 16, 2018 - The Montenegrin Seamen's Union (UPCG) has announced that, due to the inadequate support of the Montenegrin administration, the seafarers are faced with continuous obstructions affecting their employment in foreign companies.
"This is best confirmed by the fact that our administration needed a number of years to implement EU Directive 2008/106 / EC and after unnecessary exemption, to return Montenegro to the White List of Maritime Countries," states the letter sent to the Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs Osman Nurković.
Montenegrin Seamen's Union, which gathers the seafarers of all professional profiles and duties on ships, sent a letter to Nurkovic, warning him of the seriousness of the situation that could lead to replacing our naval powers on blacklists and the great problems in the employment of seafarers with foreign companies. Seamen from Nurkovic are seeking to finally begin "in a proper way to deal with his work when it comes to maritime affairs" and also point to a lack of harmonization of domestic legislation with European legislation.
Montenegrin Seafarers Facing Possibility to be Listed on "Blacklist" Again
Analyzing the period of renewal of state autonomy, Montenegrin seafarers have come to face with continuous obstructions affecting their employment in foreign companies and the achievement of quality engagements due to inadequate support from the Montenegrin administration.
Seamen face the underlying problem with a shortage of skilled personnel who would continuously, professionally and consistently be able to keep up to date with the latest maritime regulations in the maritime sector and react on time at the national level. In their words, the incompatibility of Montenegrin regulations with international standards, which could be evidenced during the upcoming inspections, could result in the redistribution of Montenegro from the White List. Given the growing involvement of seafarers from Far-East countries, the UPCG notes that the re-excommunication of our seamen from the international maritime market would have far-reaching negative consequences.
If continued with the state administration's approach so far and inadequate personnel systematization within the competent institutions, Montenegrin seafaring will, from the international point of view, continue to be marginalized and Montenegrin seafarers are exposed to severe condemnation by foreign shipping companies or agencies mediating their employment.
"Due to the non-signing of the bilateral agreement on the recognition of Montenegrin seafarers' authority by the Italian administration (but only unilateral in favor of Italy), many Montenegrin seafarers were questioned for many years in Italy. Montenegrin powers have so far been certified by the Italian Embassy in a provisional mandate of three months. Such a system has been in place since 2002, only because of the demand for naval personnel on the international labor market and the unreserved commitment of our seafarers to fight for survival in such conditions. Unfortunately, since mid-September this year, the possibility of provisional verification of the powers is denied and they, because of the obstacles resulting from the inadequacy of our administration, will no longer be able to get a job at the company they built their careers for many years. Their places will most likely occupy colleagues from Ukraine, Russia and the Philippines who unquestionably receive Italian certification of the mandate for a term of 5 years, how many such authorizations should last," the UPCG says in a letter to the Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs, Osman Nurkovic.
International Bilateral Agreements on Mutual Recognition of Seafarers' Enforcement Authorizations have so far been signed for a negligible number of countries, mainly at the initiative of individual entities that are not part of our state administration. The inadequate motivation of maritime administration employees is also reflected by the fact that Montenegro is, unfortunately, one of the two coastal countries in Europe, which is still not a full member of the Paris MOU PSC system. In this context, the non-transparency in the operations of the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs should be emphasized, where all maritime activities are being published selectively and with delays, according to UPCG. They call on the competent ministry for closer cooperation and emphasize that the constructive cooperation of interest groups in the field of maritime affairs has lately been realized most thanks to the engagement of Montenegrin business alliance representatives, within which a Naval Board was formed.
Seafarers Facing Problems in the Areas of Social and Medical Care
UPCG warns of complex issues in the area of work and social care and, in the case of seafarers, inadequately defined compatibility with the medical protection system. The UPCG notes that the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, as a ministry, currently has insufficient willingness or capacity to be a coordinator in systematic observation and solving the needs of seafarers.
UPCG warned Minister Nurković of several other essential issues that have a negative impact on the development of Montenegrin maritime affairs and further aggravates the status of seafarers, including the lack of a National Maritime Development Strategy, the need for a new Rulebook on vocations and the conditions for acquiring and empowering crew members, the impossibility of obtaining visas for certain maritime countries with which Montenegro does not have the best defined diplomatic relations, bureaucratic control of educational institutions and seafaring training centers by certain Classification Societies, and contradictions expressed through the fact that controls are paid by these same institutions, as well as the complicated bureaucratic procedure in issuing and replacing the powers of port captains and the inability to electronically apply them for renewal.
On the international maritime market, about 6500 Montenegrin seafarers are currently engaged in the free assessment. Their earnings are brought to Montenegro on a regular basis, and the amount of remittances on the basis of personal seafarers' salaries abroad almost reaches the net inflow of foreign investment in Montenegro over the last few years, they emphasized from UPCG in addressing Minister Nurkovic.
"We hope that our remarks will enhance the efforts of the representatives of the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs and the other national bodies in order to promote Montenegrin maritime affairs and that the importance of needs of seafarers, who are already generators of the development of our regions, will be seriously understood and adequately treated."