…. Threatens to withdraw services
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has again issued a seven-day ultimatum to shipping companies operating in the country over alleged poor remuneration and refusal to negotiate a minimum standard for its members in the last four years.
According to MWUN, several ultimatums have been issued in the past but the shipping companies have consistently ignored its calls to interface with the union and negotiate their workers’ welfare.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Friday, President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, warned that if at the expiration of the ultimatum, which started from Friday, February 18, 2023 the union did not get any response from the shipping companies, it will have no alternative than to withdraw its services from the ports, jetties and terminals nationwide.
Adeyanju lamented that since 2019, efforts to get the shipping companies to negotiate with the union has not been possible due to the ‘incalcitrant attitude and indifference of shipping companies to the sad plight of their employees’.
He said, “We wish to note that the struggle to get employers of labour in the shipping sector to negotiate with MWUN has been on since 2019 – a clear four years and still counting.
“We have run circles most times to get these employers of labour to come to a meeting, and where they do, they come up with reasons not to engage the union in Collective Bargaining negotiating for the improvement of the livelihood of our members in the shipping sector who are currently underpaid, overused and often subjected to frustrating working conditions, which includes a retirement, remuneration and gratuity regime that can only be described as a death sentence.
“MWUN in evaluating the gory conditions under which our members in the shipping sector work, had to declare a state of emergency in the sector with the hope that this will ignite some meaningful change in the employment conditions of our members.
“Unfortunately, this has not been possible, due to the recalcitrant attitude and indifference of shipping companies to the sad plight of their employees.
“The last straw was the outcome of a joint meeting MWUN had with some representatives of the shipping companies under the aegis of the Shipping Association of Nigeria ((SAN) on the 15th February 2023 wherein these representatives informed the union that their mandate is to request MWUN to negotiate employees’ working condition on individual company basis i.e. plant by plant, which is in clear violation of our procedural agreement signed in 2014 with representatives of shipping companies which recommended a global standard for collective bargaining negotiation and agreements. This effectively brought negotiations to a stalemate.
“In the sustained refusal of shipping companies to negotiate with the union and their continuous subjection of our members to slavish work conditions. We can no longer sit back, fold our arms and watch our members denied their rights to decent income and improved working conditions.
“MWUN wish to state that if at the expiration of this ultimatum we do not get any response from the Shipping companies, the union will have no alternative other than to call upon our members in the shipping, dock, seamen and NPA sector to withdraw their services from all ports, jetties, terminals and oil and gas platform nationwide without recourse to further notice”.
Also speaking, Treasurer of the union, Comrade Uche Igwe Onu, reiterated the position of the union, stating that the employers of labour in the shipping sector have refused to negotiate with the union to create a minimum standard for shipping workers on the grounds that they are constituted to do.
According to Onu, who is also a former President of the Shipping branch of MWUN, “The position of the shipping companies has remained that they are not constituted to negotiate workers’ welfare.
“They are also saying that they would be more comfortable to negotiate with the workers individually, rather than negotiating globally, a position which negates our procedural agreement reached in 2009.
“Before now, the shipping companies claimed that FCCPC had barred them from negotiating with us, and we asked them to confirm the core mandate of the agency. It appears they were only buying time, because they came back after two weeks to tell us that the mandate setting them up does not allow them to negotiate workers’ welfare.
“The question now is, who would now be responsible to negotiate workers welfare? But after the seven days ultimatum, the workers would decide to take their destinies in their own hands,” he said