The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has sounded a note of warning to shipping companies to urgently commence the process for upward review of what it described as very poor retirement benefits and condition of service of its members or risk clampdown by the union.
President General of the union, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, gave the warning in Lagos on Wednesday during the shipping branch of the union 5th delegates conference where comrade Ekpenyong Ekpenyong was re-elected for a four- year second term in office unopposed.
Adeyanju, said the shipping companies were using the excuses of COVID-19 to deny workers their rightful benefits and entitlement but noted that such excuse will not stand nor deter the union from going after any shipping agency that fails to fulfil its obligation to the workers.
“The shipping sector is under siege; I dare say this because records show that our members in the shipping sector have over the years been under-paid and overworked. This must be stopped now. I am therefore requesting for an overhaul of the remuneration system currently operative in the shipping sector.
“The election of today will determine the faith of those poor employers of labour that have no regard for the workers, some of whom have put in more than 30 years and they are still using the workers as slaves in their fathers land. The pay package is nothing to write home about. What is the retirement benefit at the end of your service? They should prepare for the maritime workers union this time around.
“The shipping companies cannot use the excuse of COVID-19 to determine and undermine the effort of the union to get workers’ rightful benefit. The state of emergency that we have declared in shipping still stands,” he said.
Adeyanju also decried the outsourcing of jobs, which he said can be efficiently handled by Nigerians thereby throwing very qualified Nigerians into the labour market and growing the labour market.
The practice, he said, negates the principle of local content as canvassed by the Federal government.
The MWUN boss further expressed concern over the state of insecurity in the nation’s ports, a development which he noted has negatively affected business in the sector and thus affected output while increasing cost of doing business as most companies have to pay extra to strengthen their security apparatus.
While commending the branch Presidents for ensuring smooth management of the union’s affairs without rancor, Adeyanju said MWUN has adopted a scientific approach in its approach as evident in the transformation of the union.
Earlier in his address, President of the Shipping branch, Comrade Ekpenyong, said despite the deteriorating harsh economy conditions and the negative impact on the cost of doing business in the industry, the branch under his watch was able to achieve an appreciable upward review of workers Condition of Service through yearly plant by plant Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in spite of the ” retrogressive attitude of some employers who continue to work against workers’ progress”.
Other achievements according to him include a drastic reduction in the number of casual/contract workers and introduction of annual education allowance with ongoing efforts to replicate it in the industry.
He expressed appreciation to the branch members for finding him worthy to continue in office for a second term, promising to continue to prioritize workers’ welfare.
Representative of the shipping companies and Human Resource Manager, Saima Nigeria Limited, Ubong Usen, appealed to the workers to see employers as business partners given the bad economic situation in the country.
He also appealed to the MWUN leadership to intervene in the new Lagos State tax law so that workers will not be overburdened with tax payment.