Just like the agent rot this is one prominent danger that engulf the once royal field of merchant navy in India.In my two year stay in here i have come across too many unions and I thought it better to warn all freshers about it.The fact is I am not sure if all of them blindly cheat seamen robbing them of money and the same reason I am not exposing any particular names in here.
The first encounter was with a popular political party of Maharashtra's seafarer union vice chairman whose smiling face appears a lot in the front page of marex magazine.This guy took me to his luxury apartment in western Mumbai and office just to show off.He told me that he will get me placed in Torm shipping and gave a letter to one captain there. He asked for 4.5 lakhs out of which two should be provided upfront as advance and said it will take four months.As i had already waited 17 months I wasnt ready for it and doubted their capabilities as well.I didnt go forward with the deal.
Some days later a friend of mine took me to another independent seamen union office situated in CST area.The person in charge said the same.4.5 lakh rupees and 2 months waiting for ITF company.He will take one in advance and take you to the company directly on the very same day.I wasnt very much interested in that either neither was i convinced with their setup. Again last month a friend of mine was confronted by an agent who took him to another prominent national party union office.He asked for 3.5 lakhs but which was to be paid only after the joining letter was received in hand.The offer was for an RPSL company and the link went through the SCI. He claimed that the vacancy is urgent and the joining is within 10 days.He submitted his documents there, got the IMO no. but waited a month already with no proper response.
The last in the list was 20 days back with a guy whom a friend of mine referred.A mutual friend of ours had been placed by this guy and I went and met him.He was also in the 3.5 range but needed 3 whole months.He was noticed to carry cadets to various companies along with big boxes of alphonso mango.I was positive till I met a cadet there who waited an year with no real purpose.He gave a written exam in GEM but failed and that was all that happened.He was there to get his money back.He said its a big gamble, you may or may not get the job and those guys couldnt do anything much.If he has to go through proper exam and interview channel whats the purpose of that 3.5 lakhs.
Now this is another reason why there is so much shortage of jobs.These people bribe the corrupt officials who sit in the company offices and create a back door entrance.Some people do get placed while others get threatened by their muscle power.The total outcome isnt evident but not at all good for the industry.The plague is everywhere let it be agents or union, while the administration remain a spectator.Just like I always say we seamen just have ourselves.Warn your kith and kin....
Click here to read:- Hidden dangers in Merchant navy: The risk abroad